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Joseph Parker-Junior Fa all-New Zealand showdown close to being finalized

Photo by Lawrence Lustig
01
Sep

Heavyweights Joseph Parker and Junior Fa had a heated rivalry as amateur boxers, going 2-2 against each other in their four bouts.

A professional showdown seemed inevitable and now it is in negotiations and close to being finalized. Barring a draw or no contest, it would break the tie and give the winner a huge lift in their aspirations as well as bragging rights in their home country of New Zealand, where they are by far the biggest name active professional fighters.

“It would be a massive fight here at home,” Parker, a former world titleholder, told The Ring. “Good we are both ranked in the top 10 in the world for the WBO. Makes it a lot more interesting.”

Parker said they are close to getting a deal done but that his side is “waiting on their team to sign contract and get on with it. Been waiting a while.”



Parker added, “As amateurs we have two wins each out of four fights. A lot has changed from those days.”

Lou DiBella, Fa’s promoter, told The Ring he was on a video conference with Parker manager David Higgins on Monday and that they are drawing closer to an agreement for a fight that would likely take place in December in New Zealand.

“I had a long conversation with Higgins on Zoom and we are moving closer to the finish line,” DiBella said. “I don’t think we’re at the finish line, but we are moving closer, inching closer.”

Junior Fa attacks Craig Lewis. Photo by Stephanie Trapp

For Parker, a win would keep him on a path back toward much bigger business as he is promoted by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who has a deep heavyweight stable that includes unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua, Aleksandr Usyk, Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte.

“Get a good win if fight happens and I’m right back in mix and keep the ranking,” Parker said. “I think it’s the only option we have because of COVID-19.”

Parker (27-2, 21 KOs), 28, has won three fights in a row since back-to-back competitive decision losses in 2018 to Joshua in a world title unification fight and then to Whyte. Parker is coming off a fifth-round stoppage of Shawndell Winters on February 29 on the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas undercard in Frisco, Texas.

Parker probably would have had his next fight either in the U.S. or in the U.K. on a Matchroom Boxing card, but because the coronavirus pandemic has complicated international travel, the fight with Fa makes sense now, even if the timeframe is a little quicker than Fa’s side expected.

“In a perfect world, Junior would have fought another fight or two before he stepped up to fight Joe. We are not living in a perfect world,” DiBella said. “But it’s a great opportunity and the fight in New Zealand is tremendously significant. It may not be the perfect moment for this fight but it’s the right moment.

“On one hand, you have Joe, who has a huge advantage in experience and his opposition, but they know each other, they have history. For Junior, the fight may be a little before its time but Junior is an undefeated guy who is still on the rise even though he’s older than Joe. It’s a great matchup and one we believe we can win.”

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Fa (19-0, 10 KOs), 30, has been idle since winning a one-sided 10-round decision over former U.S. Olympian Devin Vargas in November in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A fight with Parker would be by far Fa’s most notable opponent to date. Parker hopes he will ultimately accept the fight.

“If he agrees to fight, it would be a good fight. I back myself to beat him,” Parker said. “I need a good win and a knockout. It’ll keep me at the top and since the belts are tied up I’m keen to fight anyone in top 5 or 10 in the world.”

 

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