Change of plan for Samoa’s champ

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SAMOA'S WORLD CHAMPION: Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker.

SAMOA'S WORLD CHAMPION: Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Samoa’s W.B.O world heavyweight champion, Lupesoliai Joseph Parker has opted against fighting again this year.

Contrary to what he told the media while he was in Samoa last week, he is now unlikely to return to the ring until 2018. 

Duncan Johnstone of Stuff reported that had been hopes of Lupesoliai squeezing in another title bout in December following his mandatory defence win in Manchester against Hughie Fury in September.

His promoters at Duco Events had advanced negotiations with Japan's WBO No 9 Kyotaro Fujimoto.

But struggles to get a satisfactory TV deal in place on such a short time frame have made that too difficult.

They considered other options, including fighting in New Zealand or Russia, but have decided to instead allow Parker a longer break, though he will continue training with an eye to resuming his fight schedule early next year.

The Japanese were very good and solid. They were very respectful and real in their wish to stage a fight there," Duco Events boss Segiali’i David Higgins told Stuff.

"But their feedback in sounding out their broadcasters and sponsors, was that because Fujimoto's profile is still building there and boxing hasn't really been big since Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson there, they couldn't quite put enough money on the table."

Higgins said alternatives, like heading to Russia to take on Alexander Povetkin, also had obstacles.

"So for us, it was do we rush something at short money and risk that world title or do we take our time and mount a something on our terms? Everyone in the team is quite comfortable with this decision.

"Look, if we got an offer we couldn't refuse tomorrow we might be back on for December. But at this stage, realistically, we are looking at doing something on our terms in February or March.

"It certainly won't be Anthony Joshua though. Eddie Hearn is dreaming with what he put out in the media."

Hearn, Joshua's promoter, had talked of the possibility of a unification fight with Parker in Britain in February with the Kiwi camp only getting 20 per cent of the deal, something Higgins scoffed at.

In a break from tradition, and to allow Parker to spend more time at home, the next training block will be done in Auckland with trainer Kevin Barry flying in from Las Vegas to oversee that.

"One thing we have agreed on is that we want Joe to stay fit between camps, not just during camps," Higgins said.

With Parker's baby daughter Elizabeth approaching her first birthday, Higgins felt it better to allow his boxer to mix family time with training in the leadup to Christmas.

Barry said the latest developments had been "a team decision" and one they felt was best after what he described as "a messy year".

The long and disrupted business of getting Fury into the ring had taken up most of 2017 with Parker's only other bout being a home victory over Razvan Cojanu back in May.

Barry felt it was better to regroup and plan for an important 2018 where there is a desire to get into unification bouts with champions Joshua (WBA and IBF belt holder) and Deontay Wilder (WBC holder).

"We have decided we have run out of time this year. It's important that we have Joe ready for a big year next year. There's a lot at stake next year, we have to make big decisions, we need good performances, so as a team we are getting together and putting a plan in place that will give us a chance of getting amongst these big fights in 2018," Barry told FightNews.

Barry is hopeful of an opponent for early next year being revealed soon.

"We are in discussions with a potential opponent and his team, a fight that I believe will be an exciting fight, a fight that people will want to see. We are working towards that," Barry said, believing they were now in a position of strength to dictate their own terms.

"Getting the mandatory (against Fury) out of the way was very important. Let's put a couple of fights in that we choose and see where that takes us. We are in a very exciting position at the moment."

While talk continues to ramp up of a fight with Joshua, Barry said a clash with Wilder shouldn't be discounted.

"We have options and that (Wilder) is definitely one of our options," Barry said.

"I could make the Deontay Wilder fight tomorrow if I wanted to. We have an excellent relationship with their team. Jay Deas (Wilder's coach) is a classy guy, a guy I have a lot of respect for as a manager/trainer. Al Haymon, I've had several conversations with over the last twelve months also."

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