Why Joseph Parker turned down IBF world title eliminator fight

Joseph Parker has turned down the International Boxing Federation’s approach about a world title eliminator against Filip Hrgovic in order to focus on recovering from injury concerns.

Parker, 29, has been dealing with elbow issues throughout his career and was experiencing some pain in the joints leading into his impressive win over Derek Chisora last month.

Having had surgery to remove bone chips from both elbows a number of times already in his career, Parker (30-2) was focused on his recovery and had been keeping fit but had not been punching lately. He was also dealing with a burst eardrum sustained in the bout against Chisora, which was expected to come right in time.

With the IBF wanting an answer from Parker about the title eliminator against Hrgovic (14-0) by the end of the week, Parker’s manager David Higgins confirmed to the Herald they decided to say thanks, but no thanks.

“Joseph’s plan was to recuperate a bit and then go to the doctor and maybe a specialist to get some assessment of the elbows before then planning his next steps,” Higgins said.

“After he told me that, I wrote to the IBF to explain that situation and said we would have to politely decline the eliminator and wish Hrgovic well.”

The team was hopeful Parker was not going to need surgery on his elbows and would be able to make plans after the former world champion was well rested, with the lay of the land in the heavyweight division at the moment making it the perfect time to look for big fights on American soil and continue to build Parker’s name across the globe.

While taking care of Parker’s health issues was the primary reason for turning down the fight, Higgins said had Parker been in a position to take the fight, the loose indication he received about what the formal offer would look was not worth the risk of fighting an opponent who is largely unestablished on a global scale as Parker is.

“I had a loose discussion, is all I’ll say, which confirmed the offer would be crap,” Higgins admitted. “They made a loose offer (for Parker to fight Hrgovic) about eight months ago which was even more crap.

“Remember, Joseph has done the hard yards, taken a lot of punches, beaten some good names, built a fan base, travelled the world, and come off a big win in one of his best performances. For these guys to politically manoeuvre their way to the top of the IBF without doing those hard yards, then offer Parker a crap amount of money to try make their name is not on.

“They’ve got some work to do, and maybe we’ll meet some time in the future once they have built that standing.”

It’s a process Higgins is familiar with, having gone through the same thing with Parker early in his career. Parker built his name and fanbase in New Zealand, with 18 of his first 22 bouts being fought on New Zealand soil.

That often involved the team having to front up the funds to bring opponents into the country, including spending a seven-figure amount to bring Andy Ruiz Jr to New Zealand for their WBO heavyweight title clash in December of 2016.

“They’re certainly not offering anyone good money to go to Croatia and fight, or the UK, and they haven’t built up the fanbase and the sponsors,” Higgins said of Hrgovic’s team.

“Then you get a guy like Joseph Parker who has done the hard yards and is now a pay-per-view drawcard globally, and they offer laughably low amounts of money that would barely cover Joseph Parker’s training camp.

“There’s a reason why they can’t get opponents…big name global drawcards aren’t going to want to fight Hrgovic for pocket change.

“Would we fight him down the track? Sure. Joseph would fight anyone. Down the track though, if they’re going to put an offer on the table, it’s got to be a decent and respectable seven-figure sum of money.”

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