SO long as they are guaranteed a fair fight, Joseph Parker’s team will accept an opportunity to face Dereck Chisora on October 26 in London. If, however, they don’t receive this guarantee, they will walk away from the fight and allow someone else to fill the void.

That’s the message from Parker’s promoter David Higgins, who today said he will veto an offer for Parker to fight Chisora unless the contract reflects his desire for a level playing field.

“We’ve received a formal offer to fight Dereck Chisora on October 26 and have accepted on the condition that two clauses are inserted into the contract,” Higgins told the NZ Herald. “One is that Joseph’s fight will be no earlier than the penultimate fight on the card, and the other is the drug-testing protocols.”

Higgins insists the fight should come with WADA-sanctioned blood and urine testing, both before and immediately after the fight, and is presumably now warier of Parker returning to the UK following the confusion surrounding Dillian Whyte’s July 20 fight with Oscar Rivas. He, like so many, will be conscious of the need to ensure everything is correct beforehand and won’t want to leave anything to chance.

That said, as of this morning Higgins claims to have received no assurances from Matchroom Boxing that the drug-testing clause would be inserted in the contract.

“Under the circumstances of those conditions not being met, unfortunately we will have to pull out of the fight,” he warned.

If it’s hardball Higgins is playing, it’s the best kind of hardball. The kind of hardball, in fact, every manager or promoter of a boxer entering a big fight should instigate.

No testing, no fight. It has a ring to it.

Dereck Chisora
Chisora wants to fight Parker in October (Action Images/Peter Cziborra)

Promoter Eddie Hearn has promised a different version of Anthony Joshua will show up against Andy Ruiz Jnr on December 7 in Saudi Arabia so long as the dethroned heavyweight champion snaps out of the funk in which he found himself ahead of the pair’s first fight in June.

Joshua, the former WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion, saw fights against WBC champion Deontay Wilder, bitter rival Dillian Whyte and drug cheat Jarrell Miller fall by the wayside in the first half of 2019 and this, Hearn believes, served to play with the Londoner’s head and leave him feeling despondent.

“I think he’s just got to snap out of it,” Hearn said to Sky Sports.

“I think he was disillusioned with the sport because he wanted to fight Deontay Wilder.

“He couldn’t get that fight and as he said in the interview, he didn’t really want to fight Andy Ruiz. But tough, you fought him and you fought a real hungry guy.

“I think the great thing about this promotion is that now, for the first time next week, he looks a man in the eyes who is the only man to beat him as a professional.”

As witnessed in a recent spat with Lennox Lewis, there’s certainly a newfound edge to Joshua previously kept hidden from view. He is testy, threatened. He is fighting back. Biting back. It could be indicative of a fragile mind unable to control all it used to control or it could, one hopes, be indicative of a former champion prepared to strip back the pretence in order to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his.

“He doesn’t even want to talk to him, he wants to knock him clean out,” said Hearn. “He didn’t have that feeling last time but it’s a new game now. Josh wants to take his head off.”

No longer distracted by Wilder or Whyte or Fury, Joshua has a brand-new rival, the unlikeliest of rivals, and knows he must focus solely on the threat of Andy Ruiz for the next three months. Forget the titles. This time his career depends on it.  

Joshua has had a lot on his mind