IT wasn’t all that long ago we were being told New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker would be returning to UK soil in order to fight fellow jovial giant Joe Joyce at some point this summer, live on BT Sport.

Now, though, with that fight apparently on the backburner, what we have instead is news of Parker signing a long-term deal with BOXXER/Sky Sports, a direct rival of BT Sport. What this means for Joyce vs. Parker is anyone’s guess but all that matters, as far as BOXXER and Sky Sports are concerned, is that Parker has a new home and will presumably be appearing more often in Great Britain going forward.  

“In signing with Ben Shalom and BOXXER I’m excited for the next phase of my career, where I will become a two-time world champion on Sky Sports, the best TV platform in sports,” Parker said.

“I’ve had a great relationship with Sky Sports in the past, with many great fight nights against the leading British heavyweights – I’ll fight absolutely anyone put in front of me.”

BOXXER CEO and founder Ben Shalom added: “This is a massive signing for BOXXER. Joe Parker is one of the best heavyweights in world boxing and we are delighted to welcome him to the team. Every ranking body has him high in their list and now he’s entering his prime, we look forward to taking him back to world title opportunities and some huge events here in the UK.”

Certainly, there can be no argument that Parker’s name and stock remains relatively high, more so in the UK than anywhere other than his homeland. Yet it is true, also, that Parker seems better suited to the role of B-side in a big heavyweight blockbuster than he would be in the role of A-side, particularly in the UK, where he has, historically, found popularity as an opponent rather headline attraction.

It will, in light of this, be interesting to see how the 30-year-old is used. It will be just as interesting to see if the fight with Joyce, seemingly nailed-on a month ago, can somehow leapfrog the obstacles in its way and find its way over the line.

That would benefit them both, no doubt. After all, Joyce needs tests to prepare himself for a shot at a world title and Parker, a man as accustomed to losing big UK fights as winning them, could do with a sizeable British scalp to give his career some added oomph.

With a record of 30-2 (16), Parker has to date beaten Hughie Fury and Dereck Chisora (twice) over here, yet has also lost fights against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, neither of whom were able to stop the New Zealander despite edging him on the scorecards.

If predicting what he does next, more likely than a Joyce fight are a couple of rematches for Parker, one against Hughie Fury and the other against Dillian Whyte.