Joseph Parker put in a stellar performance to handily beat Deontay Wilder over twelve rounds in December, and his promoter David Higgins says there will be no backwards steps.
Parker entered the ring a big underdog against the hard-hitting Wilder, but it was him who manage to cause the most damage in the ring on his way to a shutout points victory
Speaking to Seconds Out, Higgins suggested Filip Hrgovic, Zhilei Zhang or a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr next for his former heavyweight world champion.
“I don’t think Joseph should step backwards. Against good opposition he’s looked good. He’s got good momentum, so I think any one of Hrgovic, Zhilei Zhang or Andy Ruiz, any one of those, if the money’s right, would be interesting and testing and learning. It’s a big fight. He doesn’t want to step backwards.”
Hrgovic has something all top contenders want – the number one spot with the IBF, important because the sanctioning body is expected to strip the winner of Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk in February and have a fight for the vacant belt.
Zhang also holds a number one position, his with the WBO, and will be close in line to fight for a title in the next twelve to eighteen months. In the meantime he’s expected to return on the undercard of Anthony Joshua-Francis Ngannou in March, and that could well be Parker although Wilder has been reported too.
Finally, the rematch with Ruiz Jr would let Parker put to bed any doubts around their first fight. The New Zealander won a close majority decision to pick up the vacant WBO world title back in 2016. Ruiz went on to win his own belts in an upset stoppage of Joshua, but would lose them straight back six months later and become relatively inactive.