Is WBO heavyweight belt holder Joseph Parker (23-0) looking past his next opponent?
He faces his mandatory challenger Hughie Fury (20-0) on September 23rd at the Manchester Arena in the UK but stated last week while attending the Mayweather vs McGregor card that he's interested in a showdown with the UK's Tony Bellew next.
When queried about the possibility of a Bellew fight in 2018, Parker told BoxingScene.com:
"There is a chance that we may fight sometime soon. I need to get past Hughie and then we can set something up. I look forward to fighting Fury and then hopefully I will be fighting him. We'll see."
Parker vs Fury was originally slated to happen in May but an injury forced the latter to pull out, prompting Parker to face late substitute Razvan Cojanu. Joseph won a unanimous decision but wasn't impressive given the circumstances. Cojanu ranked was 14th in WBO and 78th on BoxRec and took the fight on 12 day’s notice.
Should Parker defeat Fury later this month, Parker vs Bellew certainly makes sense.
A former lightweight turned puffed-up heavyweight, Bellew isn't a threat to Parker, size-wise or strength-wise. Moreover, the former is popular in the UK and still riding high off his upset over David Haye in March so Parker vs Bellew, should it happen, would be fairly marketable.
Given most fight fans have their eyes on Joshua, Wilder, Ortiz and Povetkin, Parker needs to keep winning while methodically raising his level of opposition in order to generate the public demand necessary for a superfight showdown with Wilder, Joshua or whoever will eventually be considered the top guy in the division.
Solid wins over Brits Fury and Bellew in the UK would certainly give Parker a lot of juice heading into a potential bout with Joshua who is also British.
Parker vs Fury
WBO World Heavyweight Title
For Bellew, Parker is the most beatable of the three champions (Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Parker). He's smaller, not as technically proficient nor as explosive. If Tony can muster some of the light heavyweight speed, his outboxing Parker wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.