Duco withdraw application for government funding for Joseph Parker title fight
Duco Events have withdrawn their application for public funding to help host Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker's world title fight in New Zealand.
Parker's promoters had been seeking investment from the government's Major Events fund, but have dropped their application because it had become a political football and too much of a distraction.
Duco still hope to host the WBO title fight between Parker and Mexico's Andy Ruiz in New Zealand, with a December 10 date pencilled for Auckland. But Friday's announcement means they were no longer seeking taxpayer assistance to meet the costs of doing so.
"We have studied the reaction to our application for government funding and it's clear it has become political dynamite, a real political football," Duco co-owner David Higgins said.
"We rely on public goodwill and it's a shame to see it has become so divisive because it's such a great opportunity. We think if this event does happen in New Zealand, it should be inclusive and celebrating a landmark New Zealand sporting achievement and also New Zealand's event capability."
Higgins said even with government support they would still have had to charge for pay-per-view television to mke the deal work.
"As soon as we went and charged for TV there'd be a large section of society who would have us for breakfast. We aren't willing to be pariahs in our own country, it's better to do it another way."
Duco wouldn't reveal the amount of money they sought from New Zealand Major Events but Higgins said their decision to abandon that route would mean "it's going to be pretty difficult" to hold the fight in Auckland.
"But in the past we have rolled the dice on some risky things, we're not immune to risky ventures," he said, hinting at keeping the Auckland option alive.
They could look at "making a small loss" in the hope of winning the title and having bigger opportunities to explore here in the future.
"Or do we take the safe bet and go to the United States?" Higgins puzzled.
Duco co-owner Dean Lonergan now rated the fight an 80 per cent chance of being held in the United States where Ruiz's experienced promoter Bob Arum is waiting to take over the show.
"We need to make some serious decisions over the weekend," Lonergan said, still motivated by a chance of staging a historic fight here and giving home advantage to his fighter.
"We will look at the financial model yet again and delve deeper into it. There's a lot to consider. But we are also in the business of problem solving and we need tyo try to solve t this as quickly as we possibly can."
Their available options now are sponsorship, corporate hospitality, payer-per-view television and international television.
Duco said they hoped to make an announcement next week on whether they would be able to raise the funds needed to secure the hosting rights for a New Zealand fight night.
If the title fight wasn't held here, Lonergan didn't believe that meant a similar exercise couldn't be carried out and accomplished in New Zealand in the future.
He said time was their enemy at the moment and with a better lead-in, a promotion of this size could be comfortably accomplished.
"Could there be another chance? Yes. But with the sheer size of what happens overseas, maybe not," he added of the financials involved in world title fights in the likes of Britain and the United States.
If Parker wins he is scheduled to fight former world champion David Haye as a WBO mandatory challenger next. The "enormous money" available in Britain for that fight meant an English venue was most likely.
Higgins confirmed they still had the support of Auckland City's funding arm ATEED.
"They did step up, aware of the benefits," Higgins said. "Frankly, if it wasn't for ATEED we wouldn't be here today, we'd already be up in the United States."
The world title fight was officially sanctioned by the WBO last week, with the organisation anxious to to get their heavyweight belt active again.
The WBO title hasn't been fought for since Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany last November. Fury handed over both the WBO and WBA belts earlier this month as his battles with depression and drug use escalated.
Parker has been training in Las Vegas since his three-round demolition of Russian Alexander Dimitrenko in Auckland on October 1.
Ruiz has been on a similar training schedule at altitude in Big Bear, California.
The 24-year-old Parker is unbeaten over 21 fights with 18 knockouts. The 27-year-old Ruiz is unbeaten over 29 fights with 19 knockouts.
It's a chance at history for both fighters.
No New Zealand-born fighter has won a world heavyweight title and despite Mexico's proud boxing record, they have never had a heavyweight champion either.