Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn has questioned Joseph Parker’s desire to be champion again ahead of his crossroads bout with Dillian Whyte.
The 26-year-old New Zealander is coming off a 12-round points decision loss to unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 21-0 (20) at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales last March that cost him his WBO title and his unbeaten record.
Hearn believes that the big money Parker 24-1 (18) made from the fight – rumoured to be as much as $NZD12 million – may have softened the former champion, who will meet Whyte 23-1 (17) at London’s O2 Arena on July 28.
“He had that massive fight against Joshua and made a lot of money,” Hearn said in an interview with Sky Sports UK. “Does he still have the burning desire and motivation to win that back?
“If he does, I think it’s a really, really good fight.”
With both boxers highly ranked by three of the four major sanctioning bodies – Whyte is WBC #1, WBO #2 and WBA #7, while Parker is WBC #6, WBO #6 and IBF #7 – there is a lot on the line in this fight. The winner will move forward towards a shot at WBA, IBF and WBO champion Joshua or WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) while the loser will fall back into the pack of heavyweight contenders.
Despite questioning Parker’s drive and commitment, Hearn has admitted the 6-foot-4 Kiwi, who has been sparring Eric Molina and Malik Scott at his training camp in Las Vegas, appears to be in great shape three weeks out from the fight.
“I spoke to my good friend [Parker’s promoter] David Higgins this morning,” he said. “They say, and we’ve seen it on the camera there, that Parker looks very light, very lean.
“He feels like he has a point to prove, because he felt like he sort of let the Joshua opportunity slip.”
Parker will need to be in good nick, according to Hearn, who says that Whyte has nothing to fear from the former WBO heavyweight champion.
“Dillian Whyte is a winner. He wants to fight anyone, and he has no fear,” Hearn told Sky Sports News. “He’s a bad geezer. When it gets going, and when it gets down and dirty at the O2 on July 28 – I’m guaranteeing it will be – he will be right in the thick of it.”