Joseph Parker is on the brink of one of the most important decisions of his professional boxing career – whether to sign a big-money multi-fight deal with Bob Arum or Eddie Hearn or remain as an independent.
Duco's David Higgins, who has described this week as "pivotal" for Parker, will sit down with the former world champion heavyweight and his family and advisors tomorrow night to thrash out the options and map out a way for another title shot.
Should Parker decide to sign with either American Arum or Englishman Hearn, the two main players who have millions of dollars at their disposal, it will mean a re-structure of his current promotional set-up, but either way Higgins will be closely involved.
Should Parker and his team decide to remain as an independent, it will likely be a short-term arrangement as the money being thrown around in the sport at the moment is simply too big to ignore.
"We've received a few options that we're considering," Higgins said. "It could be that Joe ends up becoming a star in America on ESPN and being promoted by Bob Arum. It could be that Joe ends up continuing a good relationship with Eddie Hearn. Those are two obvious options. The third option is to remain independent. Whatever he does next could be for the rest of his career.
"The other question is whether it's the right time to sign a long-term deal or do a one-off fight. Dereck Chisora has been openly chasing us down.
"If Joe did a multi-fight deal now we know what the offers are. But assuming we don't commit yet and let's say we knock out Chisora in London … then suddenly Joe's stocks go through the roof. The world's his oyster and he can legitimately call for a re-match with Dillian Whyte or Anthony Joshua … and the offers might double in value."
The chances are good that Parker will fight Chisora in London in July, after their bout set down for this month became untenable once the Englishman's team failed to send a contract in time. But Higgins said there was also a possibility that Parker could next fight in the United States instead.
Hearn, the promoter of WBA, WBO and IBF world champion Joshua, is closely linked with DAZN, a sports streaming provider, and has long said he would like Parker involved too. Should Parker join Hearn then he will be backed by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, one of the richest individuals in the United Kingdom.
Last year Mexican middleweight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez signed a five-year, 11-fight deal with DAZN worth more than $NZ500 million.
Heavyweight Tyson Fury, the former world champion still firmly in the mix, recently signed with Arum and ESPN. Like Hearn, Arum has worked closely with Higgins and Parker in the past.
WBC world champion Deontay Wilder, who drew with Fury in Las Angeles in December, is promoted by Al Haymon.
Higgins described Parker, a 27-year-old who has lost to only Joshua and Whyte after turning professional seven years ago, as having the most potential of the current crop of heavyweights. His last fight was in December, but he has been posting personal bests in the gym in Auckland since.
"He's the youngest of the bigger names and he's had a run of bad luck and bad officiating, so we haven't seen the best of Joseph," Higgins said. "He's what I would call in economic terms an under-valued asset. He's 27 and getting stronger … and he wants a second run at a world title unification."
Higgins said any decision would be based on Parker's best long-term interests. "Every deal has pros and cons. Going to the United States is quite attractive. The holy grail of boxing is to be a profiled star on both sides of the Atlantic … and Joe is already a household name in the UK. But the numbers have to be right."
Asked about his own involvement should Parker sign a multi-fight deal elsewhere, Higgins said: "I'll always be involved … that's not the issue here. If there's a re-structure then the roles might be re-defined. But there might not be … there's no ego here for me. It's purely a rational and analytical exercise."