Joseph Parker champing at the bit ahead of ring return in three weeks’ time

Anthony Cocks

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Former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker 26-2 (20) is set to return to the ring against Shawndell Winters 13-2 (12) at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas on February 29.

The 10-round bout will feature on the undercard of the Mikey Garcia versus Jessie Vargas welterweight fight.

The 28-year-old Kiwi was scheduled to face Dereck Chisora in London in October before a spider bite forced him out of that mouth-watering clash.

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“I am delighted to be back in action on this huge bill in Texas,” said Parker to Sky Sports. “It was frustrating to be ruled out of the Chisora fight in October, especially in such an unusual way, but I have been on fire in the gym in Las Vegas and we’re ready to get back to business.

“The division is moving at a great pace and this is a perfect opportunity to show the world that I am one of the elite players in the division.

“Shawndell is on a great run and I know he’ll bring it on February 29, but I am ready to show that I will become a two-time world champion in 2020 and that starts with a dominant and destructive display in Frisco.”

Winters, 39, from Harvey, Illinois, admits he will be taking a big step up in class.

“This is the biggest fight of my career and I am going to make it count,” Winters said. “I am used to being the underdog, it’s something that I thrive on and if Joseph Parker underestimates me, he’s going to be in for a bad night – because I am going in there to take him out.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: “It’s great to have Joseph back in action early in the year. The heavyweight division is red-hot right now, and it’s important for Joseph to make a statement and remind the champions and fellow challengers that he’s coming for them – but Shawndell is on a roll and will be desperate to take a huge scalp in the shape of the Kiwi on a massive night in Texas.”

Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment said: “Shawndell is a very tough competitor who recently moved up to heavyweight. He’s already pulled off two consecutive upsets against favoured opponents, and the fight before that should have been a third.

“He’s looking for his biggest upset yet against former world champion Joseph Parker. This is a tremendous opportunity for this ex-cruiserweight Rocky from Harvey, Illinois.

“I believe he is a live underdog.”


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