Joe Parker set for first fight in Oz
New Zealand's Joseph Parker (31-3, 21KO) heads back towards home to Melbourne for his first ever fight in Australia on Wednesday, May 24 to face Faiga Opelu (15-3-2, 11KO).
It's been confirmed that Kiwis Parker and David Nyika will combine to headline the event at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
Parker has fought abroad in Germany, America, Samoa and England during his 11-year career, but never before in neighbouring Australia. Signed to BOXXER, his last four fights al took place in Manchester, England.
Parker's 35th opponent is known as "Django Opelu", a 29-year-old Samoan who resides in Queensland, Australia. He is a former Australian heavyweight champion who lost the titles in his first defence to a debutant – Justis Huni, the outstanding amateur who won the bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships and gold at the Youth World Championships three years prior.
It will be Parker’s first fight since his victory over Englishman Jack Massey in Manchester in January which went the full 10 rounds. Before that he lost in a gruelling encounter against Joe Joyce – the first stoppage defeat in Parker’s career.
Opelu scored a shock win over Kiwi Hemi Ahio on the undercard of the George Kambosis v Devin Haney world title fight in Melbourne in October last year. It was Ahio’s first loss as a professional.
“He’s got to be really careful not to get upset in this fight because Django has shown how dangerous he can be,” Parker’s manager David Higgins told 1News.
Dean Lonergan, a former promoter of Parker’s alongside Higgins, has worked in boxing across the Tasman for the past decade and said Opelu was not a man to taken lightly.
“I love seeing Joe win and it was disappointing to see him take a loss against Joe Joyce,” he told 1News.
“That was a really tough fight. Django is a tough fighter and will give Joe a stern test but I can see Joe knocking him out in round seven, eight or nine because his skill-set is far superior and Joe will be the fitter fighter.
“I’m surprised to see Joe fighting in Australia. Compared to the UK it’s not a big market but I guess Joe wanted to fight closer to home and Aussie is just across the Ditch.
“A lot of people underestimate where Joe is in the world of heavyweight boxers right now. If he wins this fight and wins one more he’s right in the reckoning.”
Parker is currently ranked WBC #10, IBF #12, WBO #6, IBO #8.
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