NEW YORK — If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That is the case for former heavyweight world titleholder Joseph Parker.
Parker, whose only losses came by decisions in 2018, in a title unification fight against Anthony Joshua and to top contender Dillian Whyte on cards put on by Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, has signed a three-fight deal with the promoter.
Parker is in New York on Friday to meet the media to discuss his signing and first bout of the deal, and to attend the Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. world title fight on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
The first fight of Parker’s deal with Hearn will come against former two-time world title challenger Eric Molina on June 29 (DAZN). The fight will be on the undercard of the Demetrius Andrade-Maciej Sulecki middleweight world title bout at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Andrade’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Parker signed with Hearn following the expiration of a six-year promotional agreement with Duco Events on March 26.
“It was a wonderfully successful partnership, so much so that [Duco Events promoter] David Higgins will always be part of my team, advocating in my best interests in a management capacity,” Parker said. “Since my contract with Duco ended I have been a free agent, with my team and I spending several months assessing how to best achieve my goal of not only becoming a world champion again, but unifying all of the belts to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
“Ultimately we decided that the best option was to partner with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. We believe the three-fight deal that we are announcing today will be the start of a long and successful partnership.”
Although Parker lost to Joshua and Whyte on his cards, Hearn said Parker remains a top heavyweight and could earn another shot at Joshua.
“If Joseph Parker performs the way we all know he can over these next three fights then he will have a strong case for another shot at Anthony Joshua,” Hearn said. “There’s certainly unfinished business there, so this is a really exciting signing for Matchroom. And, I must say, I am also looking forward to sparring again with my old mate David Higgins as we haggle over the terms of each deal for Joseph. David unquestionably has Joseph’s best interests at heart and he is a tough negotiator, so there are going to be some interesting discussions ahead.”
Hearn and Higgins had very public and often entertaining disputes on their way to making the deal for Joshua-Parker, but they ultimately got on well, which helped paved the way to this deal.
“I’m pleased that I can now work with Joseph’s existing management team to help carefully guide the remainder of his career,” Higgins said.
Parker (25-2, 19 KOs), 27, of New Zealand, who has been training in Las Vegas, won a vacant world title by majority decision over Ruiz in December 2016 and made two defenses before being outpointed by Joshua before a sold-out crowd of 78,000 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, in March 2018 in one of the year’s biggest fights.
Parker returned last July to face Whyte at the O2 Arena in London and lost a close decision in an action-packed fight of the year contender. Parker rebounded with a third-round knockout of Alexander Flores in December in New Zealand.
Next up will be Molina (27-5, 19 KOs), 37, of Raymondville, Texas, who suffered a ninth-round knockout loss challenging Deontay Wilder for his world title in June 2015 and a third-round knockout to Joshua in a title fight in December 2016. After losing by eighth-round knockout to Dominic Breazeale in November 2017, Molina was out of the ring for 16 months before returning for a six-round decision win over Nick Guivas in his most recent fight in February.
“Joseph is primed and ready for the next stage of his career,” said Kevin Barry, Parker’s longtime trainer. “He knows what lies ahead. Eric Molina has twice fought for the heavyweight championship of the world, and has been in the ring with both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. So this is the perfect challenge for Joseph and one that he is ready for.”