Joseph Parker WBO title fight confirmed for Auckland
Duco Events says the hosting of Joseph Parker's world title fight in Auckland is still "a work in progress," despite reports in the United States saying it's a done deal.
Bob Arum, promoter of Parker's opponent for the WBO heavyweight title, told ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael that he was "confident" the fight would be held in New Zealand on December 10.
"I would wait and see what happens tomorrow morning because there's going to be an announcement out of New Zealand and I feel confident that that's where the fight's going to be," Arum said.
Duco Events co-owner Dean Lonergan did not give anything away, however, when asked about Arum's comment on Thursday morning.
"We're not confirming or denying anything until we're ready to make an announcement. It's still a work in progress," Lonergan said.
It was understood there was a very strong chance the fight would be in Auckland with compelling reasons for Duco to have Parker fight in New Zealand rather than in the United States despite the financial strains.
Arum said on Thursday that he'd been informed that Duco had secured the necessary funding to stage the fight in New Zealand.
The indoor setting of Vector Arena is the favoured venue after stadium options at Eden Park and Mt Smart were considered.
Arum was addressing boxing media in Las Vegas where he was promoting Manny Pacquaio's latest world title fight this weekend.
Plans have been in place for some time for an announcement from Arum in Las Vegas on Sunday (NZ time) to discuss the Parker v Ruiz fight.
Duco's annoyance at having their announcement plans upstaged by a leak in the US was complicated by one of their major sponsor's for the fight, the New Zealand TAB, quickly adding their voice, tweeting: "Joseph Parker v Andy Ruiz Jr title fight will be in Auckland on 10 December. Check out the odds."
Duco Events have been hurriedly searching for the funds to stage the fight in New Zealand since having the bout sanctioned by the WBO at their annual conference on October 20.
Last week they withdrew their controversial bid for government support and decided to back themselves to find the necessary sponsorship for the multi-million dollar promotion.
Duco have had an agreement with Arum that if they couldn't manage to stage the fight in New Zealand, they would hand over rights to him with a switch to an American venue likely.
But Auckland now appears to be the site of the historic contest - the first time a world heavyweight fight will be staged here, giving the opportunity for New Zealand and Mexico to have their first world champions in this glamour division.
Parker has been busy training in Las Vegas and given regular hints on his social media accounts that the fight was on course for December 10, rather than the January date Arum suggested he would need to make to accommodate a switch.
Ruiz has also been burying himself in training in Big Bear, California.
Details of the undercard are starting to emerge internationally which also point to December 10 in Auckland.
South African media reported that their classy veteran welterweight Ali Funeka will fight Australian Jeff Horn "in New Zealand on December 10"..
Horn is a key component in Duco's boxing stable with his latest victory bringing him to the verge of a world title shot.
Horn is ranked No 2 with the IBF and No 4 with the WBO. Funeka is the WBO's African regional champion.
Having Horn involved will be a key component of Duco's plans to maximise their TV rights to the Auckland promotion.
They will be looking for a considerable Australian audience to tune in.
While Arum will take control of the United States and Mexican TV audiences, Duco can cash in on the other regions for a fight they claim will be broadcasted to 100 countries with a potential of around 500m households.
The New Zealand broadcast will be pay-per-view – a key component in Duco's decision to back away from public funding.