Joseph Parker’s WBO world heavyweight title defence against Hughie Fury on Sept. 23 will be one of the first events back at the Manchester Arena when it reopens.
The Manchester Arena is currently closed and being repaired following the terrorist bomb attack which killed 22 people following a pop concert by singer Ariana Grande on at the venue on May 22.
A statement on the venue’s website says it is due to reopen in ‘early September’ and New Zealander Parker is looking forward to fighting in England for the first time.
Parker (23-0, 18 KOs), 25, will make a second defence away from home because he hopes to create interest in bigger match-ups in the future against the likes of Tony Bellew or IBF-WBA world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
“I’m excited that the next defence of my WBO world title will be in England because it is now the home of heavyweight boxing and I need to be fighting there regularly,” said Parker.
“Fighting away from home holds no fears for me. I will arrive having previously fought on the undercard of a Wladimir Klitschko world title fight in Germany [in 2014] and also twice in America.
“I believe that with so many Kiwis and Samoans living in the UK, I may even have more supporters in the crowd on fight night than Hughie Fury.”
Parker made a first defence of the belt in his native New Zealand on May 6 after Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) was forced to pull out of facing him on that date with a back injury.
Parker, who trains in Las Vegas, earned a unanimous decision over little-known Romanian Razvan Cojanu in May, after winning the WBO title with a majority decision over American Andy Ruiz Jr in December to become New Zealand’s first ever world heavyweight champion.
Fury, 22, from Manchester, has not boxed since April last year although is scheduled to have a warm-up bout at the Copper Box Arena in London on July 8.
Fury, who is the cousin of former lineal world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has been kept out of action not just because of a back injury but also due to a skin condition that caused fatigue.
“I’ve waited so long for this chance and my team have worked very hard to get me this fight and I’d like to thank everyone involved,” said Fury, Parker’s mandatory challenger.
“I’m going to shock the world and prove all my doubters wrong and what better place to do it than in my home city of Manchester. Parker is a good fighter and I’ve no doubt we’ll both bring our A-game on fight night. I can’t wait to be crowned world champion.”
Fury’s promoter Mick Hennessy is in talks with UK broadcasters about screening the fight and no undercard details have been revealed as yet.
Depending on which UK broadcaster shows Parker-Fury, WBO world lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs), also from Manchester, may defend his belt against mandatory challenger Felix Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs), from Puerto Rico, on the same bill.
Flanagan, 28, has made five title defences after last earning unanimous decision over Peter Petrov on April 8, also in Manchester. If Parker-Fury ends up being shown in the UK on BT Sport and BoxNation, there is a strong possibility Flanagan-Verdejo will be on the same bill.