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Hughie Fury or David Price next for Joseph Parker

By Scott Gilfoid: WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker’s next fight on April 8 is down to Hughie Fury or David Price. Team Parker would like to fight David Haye, but he’s opted instead to take a fight against cruiserweight Tony Bellew on March 4. However, Parker’s management is still interested potentially in a fight against Haye later on after Parker’s April 8 fight.

With Parker winning the vacant WBO title, he’s technically supposed to fight the No.1 contender in the WBO’s rankings next. Of course, the decision ultimately rests with the WBO if they want to push for that.

As of now, it’s unclear who the No.1 mandatory is for Parker. That’s to be decided soon. The promoters for Parker expect to have more of an idea of who will be next for him by the middle of next month.

As for Parker’s April 8 title defense, which will be his first as the new World Boxing Organization champion, the opponent could be decided by which of the two – Hughie Fury or David Price – is the mandatory. Parker just won the vacant WBO heavyweight title this month with a 12 round majority decision win over Andy Ruiz Jr. It was a close fight that many in the boxing world thought Ruiz Jr. should have won. The fight was held in Parker’s home country of New Zealand.

Parker is promoted by Duco Events and Top Rank. Bob Arum of Top Rank figures to have input on the decision of who Parker fights next. Jarrell Miller’s name was mentioned recently as a possible opponent for Parker as well, but it doesn’t appear he’s in the plans.

Price, 33, has already been contacted about the Parker fight. He would seem to be the front runner. However, the WBO could be the one that makes the ultimate decision if they name the 21-year-old

Duco Events’ director David Higgins said to this about Parker’s next opponent:

“That leaves Hughie Fury as the possible mandatory,” said Higgins. “We are seeking clarification on that situation as well, but if we were to unify, we would chase [Deontay] Wilder. We are basically in the process of weighing up the options and the pros and cons of each.”

Very little separates Hughie and Price in the talent department. Both are very, very beatable fighters. Parker, 24, would have very little problem destroying either of these two tall, stork-like heavyweights in my opinion. If the WBO decides to make Hughie the mandatory for Parker, then it should be a very easy fight for him. The main difference between Hughie and Price is Hughie tends to hit, run and hold a lot. He’s got no punching power to speak of, so he tends to spoil a great deal. Hughie’s stamina is questionable to say the least. He usually faces weak opposition that lets him set the slow pace of his fights. However, in Hughie’s last fight against 37-year-old journeyman Fred Kassi (18-6-1, 10 KOs) last April, he was pressured hard by him for six rounds. Not surprisingly, Hughie started to gas out badly by the 6th and was beginning to take punishment. As tired as Hughie was, it didn’t look like he would be able to make it the rest of the way. Fortunately for Hughie, he collided heads with Kassi in the 7th and suffered a bad cut that caused the fight to be stopped in that round. If not for the cut, Hughie would have been stopped at some point in the fight in my opinion. He was exhausted and taking big head shots from Kassi. Despite getting the tainted win, Hughie looks very shaky as a challenger for Parker in my estimation. The blueprint is there in how to beat Hughie. All Parker needs to do is stay on top of Hughie, force him to fight hard for three minutes of very round, and make sure you hit him in the midsection each time he clinches you. Hughie will definitely hold a lot, because that’s what he does. He throws a punch and immediately falls into a clinch. When Hughie isn’t doing that, he’s jabbing and running around the ring to keep from getting hit. It’s a very defensive form of fighting. Parker just needs to make sure he stays on top of Hughie to make him fight the full three minutes of every round rather than just a few seconds.

Price is probably the easier option for Parker, because he can be gotten out of there in one or two rounds by hitting him in the head with a hard shot. Price will likely cave in immediately and drop for the 10 count. Parker can’t let Price gain confidence though, because he does punch hard, and he could land something big enough to get a knockout of his own if he’s left out there long enough.

“I’m going to head to LA in early January, so I will probably catch up with Bob Arum in Beverly Hills,” said Higgins. “Then we’ll chat about all the options and come to a decision.”

Price and Hughie have their positive and negatives about them in terms of being Parker’s potential opponents. Neither of them are great options unfortunately. Jarrell Miller is more solid heavyweight than both of these guys put together in my book, but Miller is also capable of beating Parker. I don’t think Parker’s promoters want him getting beaten so soon, which is why I see Miller not getting the fight against him.

The ONLY way I see Miller getting a crack at Parker’s WBO title unless he becomes the #1 WBO mandatory challenger. Miller is too T-A-L-E-N-T-E-D for him to be given a shot as a voluntary defense. His boxing skills are impeccable and he hits like a ton of bricks. As such, I think it might take another two to three years for Miller to get a shot against Parker or whoever winds up as the WBO champion in 2017. Unfortunately, I don’t see Parker keeping his WBO title for long. He’s surely going to be fighting the likes of IBF champion Anthony Joshua or WBC champion Deontay Wilder in a unification in 2017, and I can’t see him beating either of those guys.

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