Auckland confirmed to host Joseph Parker's WBO world title defence against Hughie Fury
Finally, after months of stalling and speculation, Joseph Parker has a date and venue for his first WBO world title defence.
Nothing is ever simple in the world of boxing but Auckland's Vector Arena, the same venue Parker claimed the title last December against Andy Ruiz, will host the Kiwi heavyweight and Manchester's Hughie Fury on May 6.
It's been anything but smooth sailing just to get to this point, and the visitors aren't out of the storm yet.
From a convoluted purse bid, which will see Parker walk away with $1.8 million (US) and Fury $1.2m (US), to doping allegations swirling around the unbeaten Briton and New Zealand immigration concerns facing his convicted father and trainer Peter, hold ups have been at every turn.
Parker's promoters, Duco Events, presented a letter from the British Boxing Board of Control on Wednesday stating Fury would not face a hearing for an alleged failed test for banned substance nandrolone in 2015 before the Parker fight.
Despite suggestions of a mid-April solution, almost two years after Fury's alleged positive test it remains unclear when, or if, the hearing which also implicates his cousin, former champion Tyson Fury, will ever take place.
"It's dealing with allegations we know little about and it's further down the track which means we can promote this fight unencumbered," Duco promoter David Higgins said. "These are allegations that float around not just boxing but many sports. Sometimes they're proven; sometimes they're not. That'll be dealt with in the future. Our job is to stage a world title defence and the result will stand."
Having originally penciled in the mandatory Fury fight for early April, Parker's camp are relieved the event is now set in stone. While a cloud hangs over whether Fury was clean in his 20 previous pro fights, this time around he will have to be.
"The contract for the fight signed by Parker and Fury submits to WADA testing," Higgins said. "Hughie is coming. His purse is massive. It's more than Deontay Wilder got [$900,000 US] for his recent [WBC] title fight. It will be the biggest payday of his career by a country mile, and a shot at the WBO heavyweight title so we're on."
Distractions for the Fury camp will be on-going. Peter has engaged lawyers as he attempts to gain a special exemption and character waiver to gain entry to New Zealand due to an extensive criminal history that includes 10 years behind bars for possession and intent to supply amphetamine.
"Who is in his corner is not our problem. I had a look at it and they're from decades ago and there was nothing in my view that was heinous. Yeah there were some criminal convictions for sure but since then if you look at his work he's devoted himself to training heavyweight champion boxers. I'm relaxed about it."
Higgins said Duco were essentially told not to bother applying for Auckland council support but were awaiting feedback on a submission for government funding. The Samoan government may also be involved again. Approaches from three major UK broadcasters - ITV, British Telecom and Sky Sport UK - have already landed, while Top Rank's Bob Arum will sell the US rights.
"We are in discussions. We don't know where that is going. It would be great to get them [NZ government] on board because it's such a platform. Most major sports from rugby to cricket to rowing have had some support at some level. I don't think boxing has. We're not counting our chickens and I don't want to pre-empt any process so we'll see what happens."
Should Parker get past Fury as most expect, his immediate future is likely to be in the buoyant UK market. If successful in May, Higgins indicated Parker would target the winner of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, with Wilder and Tony Bellew, who upset David Haye last week, also options.
"Some people say we're like the boy who cried wolf with it being the last fight in New Zealand. Well, it might be for a while. After this, if Joe beats Fury, he might suddenly be fighting Anthony Joshua at Wembley."