Former WBO heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker will fight live on New Zealand free-to-air television for the first time on January 22, with Warner. Bros Discovery ANZ having secured the broadcast rights to screen the kiwi slugger’s fight against local hero ‘One Smack’ Jack Massey in Manchester, on Three.
The bout – Parker’s first since suffering a stoppage defeat in an all-action thriller against Joe Joyce in September last year – is a feature on an action-packed card headlined by Chris Eubank Jr’s blockbuster showdown with Liam Smith.
Parker has notched an impressive 30-3 record over a career that is now into its second decade – but has never previously fought live on free-to-air television in New Zealand.
Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ Senior Director Content Juliet Peterson says: “We’re delighted to build on Three’s long and proud history of bringing New Zealand audiences the very best of boxing, and can’t wait for Kiwis to see Joseph Parker enter the ring. We love making fantastic sporting events like this as widely available as possible.”
Parker’s manager David Higgins said the move to free-to-air was a great chance for Kiwi sports fans to see the nation’s most successful boxer while he was still well and truly in his prime.
“Because he has achieved so much it is easy to forget that Joseph is still just 31,” said Higgins.
“But for a heavyweight that means his best years are still ahead of him. This is an important fight for Joseph against a tough opponent as he looks to get the ball rolling for a huge year in 2023.”
While he may have suffered a defeat in his last outing, Parker’s stock in the UK has not been dented after he pushed the hulking Joyce all the way in a blood and thunder 11-round thriller.
The task in front of him as he returns to the Manchester Arena next Sunday morning (NZ time) is entirely different this time around, with his opponent Massey an elite cruiserweight who is stepping up to heavyweight for the first time. That means Parker will be the considerably bigger man – a rarity for the former WBO champ.
“Good on Jack for stepping up to take this fight,” said Parker.
“He’s a tough guy who is very skillful and he clearly backs himself. But unfortunately for him he has made a huge mistake. I’ve got a point to prove and he is standing in my way.”
Massey has fashioned a 20-1 record as a cruiserweight and is the IBO world champion in that division.
“I do not turn down any challenges and to have a fight like this in Manchester is a dream come true,” Massey told British boxing vlog BBTV Boxing.
Massey comes into the fight as a known quantity, having sparred six rounds with Parker at a training camp hosted by WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury. The 29-year-old Brit insisted he wasn’t bothered by Parker’s size advantage.
“A lot of cruiserweights are shying away from fighting me. We got the offer and you’ve got to take these things with both hands. It’s what I do. I’m a boxer. I’ve been boxing since the age of 11. I never shy away from a fight – ever.
“I’m not turning up for a payday, I’m turning up to make a massive, massive upset.
“Don’t sleep on me. People haven’t seen the best of me.”