While the Lucas Browne controversy broils over in Australia, neighboring New Zealand sees their Heavyweight prospect takes the next step in his development as 24 year old Joseph Parker (18-0) faces veteran Carlos Takam (33-2-1). The match was announced on a Wednesday media conference and will take place at the Vodafone Events Center in Manukau City, New Zealand on May 21st.
The fight had long been in the works, with Takam and his French based backers attempting to host the fight in that country, but in the end, the package put together by Kiwi promoters David Higgins and Dean Lonergan won the day. The purse for the match is reported to be the biggest in New Zealand boxing history.
For Parker, Takam is a major step up in competition. Takam is currently the number seven ranked heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and at 35 years old he has a few years of relevancy left. The best name on Parker’s resume was former title contender Kali Meehan (42-6), but when they fought Meehan was 45 years old and coming off a layoff of more than a year.
Parker is trained by Kevin Barry, a long-time veteran who is best remembered for his Olympic Silver Medal as a Light Heavyweight in 1984. In the qualifying match, he was behind facing Evander Holyfield when he was dropped after the referee called a break and Holyfield was disqualified. He never turned pro but has spent the years since training boxers and Parker is the prospect that Barry has been waiting for his whole life. Parker has not been shown to the world level, but Barry has confidently taken him to Germany to spar with the Klitschko brothers and he recently spent time training in Las Vegas.
The bout is an IBF Title Eliminator, and the winner could be facing the winner of the April 9th bout between IBF World Heavyweight champion Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua.
Takam is looking to add to his current three fight winning streak. His loss came against top ranked Alexander Povetkin in October of 2014, when he was stopped in the tenth. Takam is currently ranked number 7 in the Heavyweight division by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
As for Lucas Browne, the WBA Heavyweight champion has stayed steadfast in his denial of steroid use despite a positive PED test coming back in the wake of his title winning performance March 5th against Ruslan Chagaev. Browne says he has a negative test result from the day he left Australia for Grozny, Russia to face Chagaev and that the samples taken in Russia were somehow tampered with. Much more to come in this devleoping story, but for now, the WBA Heavyweight belt is around Browne's waist.
In England, David Haye confirmed that his next opponent will be Arnold Gjergjaj of Switzerland. The match will take place May 21st at London’s O2 Arena and marks the second fight of Haye’s comeback since he returned in January after a more than three year layoff.
This weekend sees a pair of interesting Heavyweight bouts in Europe as Robert Helenius (22-0) faces Johann Duhaupas (33-3) for the vacant WBC Silver belt in Helsinki, Finland and veteran Tomasz Adamek (50-4) faces Eric Molina (24-3) for a vacant IBF Inter-Continental strap.