Joseph Parker's replacement opponent found for WBO title fight
Joseph Parker's handlers have found their man to replace Hughie Fury and claim he has more power.
They will announce Parker's opponent on Wednesday for next week's WBO world heavyweight title fight.
Britain's Fury pulled out of the May 6 promotion last Sunday, claiming a back injury.
Duco Events boss David Higgins said busy work over the last two days had been rewarded with an opponent who fulfils the WBO criteria of a top 15 ranking, has been training and is ready to fight.
"We are excited, we think we have got someone that is at least as good as Hughie Fury and certainly has more power than Hughie Fury," Higgins said.
"He's a very tough contender, so it's a proper challenge. It's looking promising ... tomorrow we are planning a big announcement."
The opponent will be at the announcement in Auckland, given the need to have him in the country as quickly as possible with fight night just 11 days away.
Higgins wouldn't be drawn on the name from "a handful of contenders", but speculation has ranged from WBO No 6 Dominic Breazeale (US) to No 14 Razvan Cojanu (Romania).
Both Breazeale (2.01m) and Cojanu (2.02m) fit the the bill of being taller than Parker, a key element of the Kiwi's preparations for the lanky Fury and one that must replicated in this new fight at such late notice.
But rule out Breazeale, who has already lost a world title fight to IBF champion Anthony Joshua, because of his asking price and lack of preparation.
Califonia-based Cojanu, the WBO's China zone champion, has fought in Australia before and was involved in Parker's last training camp in Las Vegas.
The 30-year-old with a 16-2 record would come at the right price with Higgins suggesting "any heavyweight worth their salt should jump at a shot at the title and a six-figure pay day".
The development came on a day when others put their hands up - WBC champion Deontay Wilder called out Parker for a unification bout while Fury's cousin Tyson, the troubled former champion, said he'd be willing to jump in the ring - all 165kg of him.
It was a light moment in what has become a bitter battle between the Parker and Fury camps as the fallout to their non-show continues.
Higgins strongly denied claims made by Peter Fury, the father and trainer of Hughie, accusing Duco of shopping the promotion back to Britain.
"It was they who were trying to move the fight, even after preparations were already underway. The date had been set but they said they had spent too much money on the fight and that it wouldn't work in New Zealand," Fury wrote in a hard-hitting column for the Mirror in the UK.
That was below the belt, according to Higgins.
"I totally refute that," he said. "From day one the Furys did not want to come to New Zealand, they just refused to come here. That's why we went to purse bid to force it. We won the purse bid and booked the fight for New Zealand. The fight was going to happen on May 6.
"Behind the scenes it was them trying to convince us to move it to England."
But Higgins conceded Duco would have been tempted – for the right money.
"If they gave us an offer we couldn't refuse on our terms, we would have considered going to England. But for them to suggest it was us sort of begging, or trying to push it to England, is totally wrong."
Higgins is adamant the May 6 promotion is "financially secure".
"Every fight is a risk, it's a risky business. But we wouldn't be doing this if we couldn't make it work," he said.