Former WBO heavyweight champ Joseph Parker will not be taking on Filip Hrgovic in an IBF final eliminator. Instead, as the former WBO heavyweight champion’s manager David Higgins explained when speaking with Sky Sports, the plan is for Parker to fight a rematch with Andy Ruiz in the U.S, whereby he will build his profile in America.
Higgins stated the various reasons a fight with the unbeaten (and criminally avoided) Hrgovic makes no sense for Parker.
“For Joseph to grow his career he must look stateside, and look for big knockouts against American fighters,” Higgins said. “That gives him a worldwide reputation while he waits for his title shot. If you don’t do that? You end up like Anthony Joshua – only respected in certain parts of London. A rematch with Andy Ruiz would be fantastic. Parker beat Ruiz in a very close fight in New Zealand. Had it been in America, it might have gone the other way. Andy wants a rematch. Fighting him in America is interesting because he has a cult following among Mexican-Americans.”
As to the other reasons Parker is not looking to take the fight with Hrgovic, Higgins said his fighter has “elbow trouble” which will necessitate a visit with a specialist, and how Parker also has a “badly busted eardrum.” But the main reason, Higgins says, for his fighter not being interested in the Hrgovic fight, is “economics.”
“There is an economic problem with Hrgovic,” Higgins said. “When we built up Parker, we built a fanbase in New Zealand. We funded, paying big money, to stage Parker-Ruiz in New Zealand. Does Hrgovic have a home fan base anywhere? He has attained a high ranking but has no fan base so the money on offer is laughable for somebody like Parker. Also, this fight is at the back of the eliminator queue because the other belts must be sorted out. We wish Mr. Hrgovic well and I sympathise with his situation.”
Higgins also stated that a fight with Hrgovic, 14-0(12) would barely earn Parker, 30-2(21) enough to pay his training expenses.
So might we get Parker-Ruiz II this year? The first fight, fought back in December of 2016, was indeed a close affair, with Ruiz starting well but fading. Back then, the win Parker scored was not massive (although it did earn him the vacant WBO belt), but of course Ruiz went on to shock Joshua to become world champion. Now a contender again, Ruiz, 34-2(22) wants revenge over Parker and then another title shot. Parker feels he can top his 2016 showing against Ruiz.
It’s an interesting return fight and as neither Parker nor Ruiz is in any way buzzing over the idea of a fight with Hrgovic, maybe they will be seeing one another again soon.