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Joseph Parker and Junior Fa having trouble negotiating New Zealand heavyweight clash

The two sides don’t appear close to a deal, but they’re talking, or at least arguing.

Joseph Parker Trains with New Zealand Breakers Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Former heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker and Junior Fa are negotiating — or at least arguing — but don’t seem close on a deal for what would be a big all-Kiwi heavyweight clash in New Zealand.

Parker manager David Higgins tells Sky Sports that the Fa side have been offered $500,000 (NZD) for a fight, which Higgins says would be Fa’s biggest purse by far, and that much is surely true:

“That’s 10 times the biggest fight he’s ever had. The second-biggest fight in the history of New Zealand. The only bigger purse has been when Parker fought Andy Ruiz Jr and won the world title. Junior Fa was offered the second biggest purse ever to fight the guy he had been calling out for two years. We can’t get a response. The only explanation is Junior Fa is using Joseph Parker to build his name and then he’s offered $500,000, enough to buy a house, and he runs.”

The $500K NZD is about $328K USD, if you’re looking to get a more relatable view of this. And Fa’s promoter, Lou DiBella, says that’s not the real offer:

“The guaranteed money in the offer was $200,000 US. I found the offer, guarantee and upside, to be totally unacceptable for one of the biggest fights in New Zealand boxing history. ... Under Higgins’ offer, the fight would need to do huge business for the Fa side to see $500,000 NZ between us. They can’t assert how big the fight is and act like Junior is an insignificant participant.”

DiBella says he’ll be discussing the matter further with Fa’s team, and it’s not like the negotiations are dead here, but there’s obviously some serious ground to be covered. Higgins’ stance is that Fa hasn’t fought anybody but has used Parker’s name to build himself up in the press in New Zealand.

Joseph Parker v Alexander Flores Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

The 30-year-old Fa (19-0, 10 KO) is a big guy but Higgins’ assessment that he hasn’t fought anyone is actually pretty accurate. He’s a bit old for a prospect, even at heavyweight, and while a pretty good amateur (he won bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games), it’s not like he was some incredible standout.

And speaking of the amateurs, Parker and Fa split four fights in the unpaid ranks. But Parker (27-2, 21 KO) has had the much higher-profile pro run, and at 28 he’s actually younger than Fa, too. Fa’s most notable wins have come over the likes of Devin Vargas, who never panned out as a pro, and Dominick Guinn, who was well washed by the time Fa fought him in 2019, and is another guy who flamed out well ahead of expectations.

Parker won the WBO heavyweight title in 2016, beating Andy Ruiz Jr in a close fight in Auckland, and made a pair of successful defenses before dropping that belt in a unification with Anthony Joshua in 2018. He also lost to Dillian Whyte that same year, but has rattled off three straight wins, and while that opposition has been pretty weak, it’s still better than what Fa has faced.

All that said about results and strength of schedule and whatnot, the fight is about spectacle as much as anything, and would be a rare New Zealand domestic heavyweight grudge match on at least a relatively high level. Not only do they have history, but there has been plenty of talk back-and-forth, and the fight would absolutely do good business in New Zealand.

Right now, Higgins’ argument is Fa hasn’t even earned what he’s being so generously offered, while DiBella’s argument is that Fa will account for a sizable chunk of what makes this fight so attractive to make in the first place. Without Fa, who does Parker fight in New Zealand? The only other notable heavyweight in the country is Hemi Ahio (16-0, 11 KO), a 29-year-old with a very limited ceiling on paper, and nowhere near the heat that Fa has with Parker.

Both sides have their points. We’ll have to wait and see if they can iron out the differences and possibly meet in the middle.

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