Eddie’s Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing announced a key contest in the heavyweight division on Thursday morning, with Dillian Whyte (23-1, 17 KOs) slated to meet former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) at London’s 02 Arena on July 28.
With all of the division’s top honours shared between just two men in the shape of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, Thursday’s announcement is testament to the fact that top fighters know that they must face each other if they are to stay relevant.
30-year-old Whyte already occupies a lofty ranking with the WBC. However, his route to a shot at champion Wilder is far from straightforward as the Alabama-native has seemingly set his sights on either a title defence against fellow American Dominic Breazeale – or a money-spinning unification clash with Joshua.
Whyte has demonstrated that he is far from content to set and wait for Wilder though. Indeed, Whyte had as recently as last week appeared likely to face Bulgarian contender Kubrat Pulev in an eliminator for the IBF version of the heavyweight crown. Negotiations for that fight were complicated by the fact that Pulev would have been entitled to a 75-25% split of the purse for a contest that Whyte could potentially have had to travel to Bulgaria for. A bout in his home surroundings of the 02 Arena surely made far more sense for “The Body Snatcher” though – and rumours even surfaced on Wednesday evening of a potential meeting with Cuban Luis Ortiz before the deal with Parker was confirmed on Thursday.
Parker should also be commended for agreeing to such a high stakes fight. Coming off the first defeat of his career in which he surrendered his WBO championship to Anthony Joshua, many might have expected the New Zealander to take on a far lesser opponent in a comeback fight, either in his homeland or on the undercard of an US promotion. Instead, however, the 26-year-old returns as the visiting fighter in a scenario in which he will likely viewed as an underdog.
Both Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker have only tasted defeat once in their professional campaigns, each to Anthony Joshua. The victor of their clash on July 28 will move a step closer to a shot at revenge against “AJ”. The loser though will very much find themselves in the wilderness when it comes to securing a world heavyweight title opportunity in the near future.
That both men would readily agree to a bout shows that neither is lacking in self belief and is great for a heavyweight division that has in the past been accused of lacking such competitive fights.
Former welterweight world champion Kell Brook is also expected to appear on the bill. The card will be televised on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the UK, with US broadcast details yet to be announced.