Joseph Parker fight with Hughie Fury off
Joseph Parker's WBO heavyweight title fight against Hughie Fury is off after the Englishman pulled out claiming injury less than two weeks out from the event in Auckland.
Parker was due to fight Fury in a mandatory defence of his WBO world heavyweight title on May 6 but Stuff revealed doubts about the fight last week.
World Boxing Organisation (WBO) president Paco Valcarel said in a tweet on Sunday the fight was now off and "the problem lies within the Fury camp".
Parker has been mucked around by the Fury camp throughout the build up. The Kiwi champion has been through an extensive training camp and arrived in New Zealand on Saturday ready to step into the ring next week.
Parker's promoters, Duco Events, fired a shot at the Fury camp for pulling out at such late notice.
"I spoke to the WBO president a minute ago he said the Furys are claiming to have an injury and therefore we can fight whoever we want when we want as a voluntary defence out of the top 15," Duco co-owner David Higgins said.
Asked about the nature of Fury's injury, Higgins said: "I know exactly what it is; their moral compass has broken in half - a nasty fracture of the moral compass. It's not just Hughie, the whole camp has.
"That's boxing. Sometimes this sort of thing goes on. They didn't appear to want to come to New Zealand."
Higgins is yet to speak to anyone from the Fury camp.
"I don't think I'll bother."
Peter Fury, Hughie's father and trainer, told World Boxing News website he hoped the fight would go ahead at a later date.
"We will be releasing details of the postponement in an announcement shortly," Fury told WBN. "However, we are looking to put the fight back on in New Zealand as fast as possible."
But Higgins ruled out postponement, saying Duco had authorisation to push on with alternative plans.
"The WBO clearly gave us permission to take a voluntary defence and that's what we are going to do," Higgins said. "The wranglings of the Furys have cost us a lot of time and money so we're going to take a voluntary. If the Furys provide a medical certificate that is sound then I'll apologise for being suspicious, but that doesn't change that fact it's been very difficult and we would not be in a hurry to work with them again."
A decision is yet to be made about whether Parker will still fight on May 6 but finding an opponent willing to step up on two week's notice seems unlikely. Higgins also ruled out Parker taking on Australian heavyweight Lucas Brown, who was quick to put his hand up, as he does not sit inside the WBO's top 15.
"We've got to regroup and look at what we do. Obviously we have respect for the paying public so we'll keep them informed and provide refunds where appropriate but there will be more information tomorrow [Monday].
"The life of a promoter is not easy but it is interesting."
The development came just a day after Hughie Fury declared his readiness for the fight in a tough-talking first-person column in Britain's Mirror newspaper, headlined "I'm firing on all cylinders, Joseph Parker won't know what's hit him".
"With just two weeks until I take on Joseph Parker, everything has gone well in training. I know every fighter says that, even when it's not true, but I'm raring to go," Fury wrote.
"Because of the problems I had with my skin that I talked about in my first column, this is the first time in a long time that I've had a proper training camp.
"I feel 100 per cent better than I did for my previous fights. I'm bigger, stronger, and more powerful. In fact, I'm a different fighter and Parker won't know what's coming.
"I've watched a few of his fights and I'm confident we have the game plan to beat him - but I can't reveal it here!
"I'll fly out to New Zealand with my team in the next few days so that we have plenty of time to get settled."
Immediately after Duco won the purse bid to stage the fight and were weighing up their venue options which then included New Zealand, Samoa and Singapore, Fury's father and trainer Peter Fury said coming to New Zealand would be "the worst".
"At the moment the worst way is going to be New Zealand, we'd like it to be somewhere else," Peter Fury said.
"It all depends where it is going to make the most money I suppose, and that's not really my end of it. We will have to see."
Duco pledged $4.1m to stage the promotion, pipping Fury's promoter Frank Warren in the February purse bid. Parker was set to walk away with $US1.8 million (US) and Fury $US1.2m, the biggest pay cheques of their careers.
The event has been plagued by delays. Originally planned for early April, it was put back a month as Fury had an anti-doping hearing postponed. He has to answer to allegations of a failed test for banned substance nandrolone in 2015.
Hughie Fury has not fought since April last year when he extended his record to 20-0 in a laboured win against American Frank Kassi. The fight was stopped in the seventh round with Fury suffering a cut eye but ahead on points.
This development echos the troubles endured in trying to get Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko in the ring for a rematch.
Tyson Fury rocked the division by beating long-time Klitschko in late 2015 to win the WBO, WBA and IBF titles. But the first scheduled rematch was postponed after Tyson Fury suffered an ankle injury and then a second attempt to stage that fight was aborted when Tyson Fury was deemed "medically unfit to fight".
Klitschko's bosses hit out at the Furys then as their fighter effectively lost a year of his ageing career.
"Nobody of us ever wants to deal with this group of people again, especially including myself," Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager, said at the time.
It was then revealed the extent of Tyson Fury's problems as his battles with drugs, alcohol and weight issues forced him to eventually relinquish his belts.
That saw Parker win the vacant WBO title by beating Andy Ruiz in Auckland last December.
Parker's five-month wait for his first defence represents the longest break in his busy career since late 2013.
The two camps were in discussions a fortnight ago about possible changes to the fight venue, even taking it to England.
But Parker insisted he wanted the fight to happen as scheduled.
"We've already changed the fight once before and extended our training camp. All these things, they just play into their hands. I want to get into the ring, I want to do my thing. Whatever the outcome so be it, but it's time ... it's time to get it on," Parker told Fairfax on Saturday before the fight was called off.
"I just want to get the job done. I've been training very hard so I'm ready to get in the ring and let my hands go."
Parker had accused the Furys of skulduggery over the promotion.
"In boxing there are lot of things that happen where they try to slow down the process and try to get to the other team, trying to get into our heads. They are trying every trick in the book to try to upset us."