Joseph Parker to take significant pay-cut against new opponent for WBO world heavyweight title defence
Joseph Parker will take a significant pay cut as the economic realities of downsizing his WBO heavyweight title fight in Auckland begin to hit home.
Parker was guaranteed $2.4 million for his mandatory defence against Hughie Fury but with the big Brit pulling out two weeks before the anticipated bout, claiming a back injury, the whole promotion has now been reduced.
Duco boss David Higgins confirmed the event would switch from the 12,000-seat Spark Arena to Manukau Events Centre, with a comparatively small 3,000 crowd set to attend Parker's first title defence, and likely last fight in New Zealand for some time.
The decision to move to a smaller venue was made to mitigate costs, with hits expected to be taken in a number of areas including the UK broadcast revenue.
Higgins said the change to a voluntary defence meant the Fury purse bid agreements ($4.1 million) went out the window, allowing Duco to renegotiate fight fees for Parker and new Romanian challenger Razvan Cojanu, who is ranked 14th in the WBO.
Asked if Parker would be hit in the pocket, a cagey Higgins said 'most likely' but praised the 25-year-old for being understanding in the circumstances.
"A lot of boxers and promoters are self interested and don't see the other point of view," Higgins said. "One good thing about our team is we're very fair. One of the reasons this is continuing is Joseph being fair and meeting us on what is realistic."
Higgins also revealed regular sponsors, understood to be Burger King who were prominent in the "road to the title" along with Gallagher and the Mad Butcher, were no longer on board.
Others had stepped up.
"I don't want to talk too much about that. Various companies have supported us over the years," Higgins said. "They go in and out for varying reasons... budgeting and the likes. We're grateful to them all."
After Fury's late withdrawal, Duco came very close to calling off the May 6 promotion. A 48-hour deadline to find an alternative opponent was set, and they are now confident Cojanu, who sparred over 40 rounds with Parker in the lead-up to this event, will prove a credible, solid test, despite being ranked four places lower than fellow Kiwi heavyweight Junior Fa by BoxRec.
Pay-per-view for the fight has been set at $49.95; $10 less than Parker's title win over Andy Ruiz Jnr last December. Higgins said there had not been an "avalanche" of ticket refunds.
"In our business sometimes you win some and sometimes it is tougher. This is one of the times it is tougher. This could be the toughest promotion I've ever been involved in terms of how the cards have fallen but we'll get through it and we hope Joseph wins. My goal is to break even.
"There were a couple of days of butterflies in the stomach. You can't kid the media and the public. If we serve up a bunny opponent people won't buy and we'll lose even more money.
"To the fans I want to acknowledge there has been a change and out of respect for them we would never put a bunny up we would rather pull the pin and cancel the show.
"We seriously looked at cancelling the show but then Razvan quickly stepped up - and he must be hungry because the deal got done quick. There was no haggling. That tells you he wants to win the world title."
Dramas with the Furys are not over, either. Despite the Fury camp mucking around Parker at every turn, Higgins strongly suggested the Kiwi champion could still face Hughie this year.
Should he get past Cojanu as expected, the on-going Fury wrangle could complicate Parker's plan to take on Tony Bellew and ultimately unify the titles.
"The WBO will either enforce that mandatory on those same terms for later in the year or not. There's a bit of work to be done around that.
"Their side will be working away behind the scenes to try and force us to fight them later in the year. If it is on our terms we might. If it's not, there is legal recourse to look at.
"But at the end of the day you take the emotion out of it. You don't hold grudges. If the terms are right for our team we'll fight that opponent. Often the adversarial promotions are the biggest."