Bryant Jennings, an American heavyweight who has gone the distance with Wladimir Klitschko, is looming as a possible next opponent for Kiwi Joseph Parker.
Parker, back training in Morecambe in England following a break in New Zealand after his technical knockout defeat to Joe Joyce in September, is hoping to fight again in January and Jennings would appear to fit the bill.
The Joyce setback in Manchester was Parker’s first stoppage defeat as a professional – the 30-year-old, bleeding from a cut over his right eye – was put on the canvas by a left hook in the 11th and penultimate round – but if anything his allure to English audiences in particular increased.
Parker, now 30-3 after previous points defeats to Anthony Joshua (in which he lost his WBO world title) and Dillian Whyte, played his part in one of the most entertaining heavyweight fights of the year in which the undefeated Joyce impressed hugely with his workrate and ability to take a punch.
Parker began well but tired relatively quickly, although he too showed enormous resilience. 1News understands he was recovering from a recent illness but he made no excuses afterwards.
Joyce, 15-0, is now the mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk's WBO world title.
A former rival Derek Chisora tweeted this morning that Parker and Jennings, from Philadelphia, have agreed on terms but there has not been an official announcement. Parker’s manager David Higgins has not returned calls from 1News.
Chisora, who lost twice to Parker last year, and Jennings have been regular sparring partners. A clip of a particularly intense session in the ring last year is popular on YouTube.
Jennings, 24-4 as a professional, has a relatively impressive record but has not fought since July, 2019 – a points loss after 12 rounds to Joyce in London.
He handed Polish southpaw Artur Spilka his first professional defeat in 2014 with a final-round knockout and a year later in New York he lost a world title fight to Klitschko by unanimous decision.
Later that same year he was stopped by Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz in the seventh round.
Apart from Joyce, Parker and Jennings have three other opponents in common: Bowie Tupou, Daniel Martz and Alexander Dimitrenko.
Both stopped the trio, but Parker did it earlier (Tupou in the first round in Invercargill in 2015, Martz in the second round in Hamilton the same year and Dimitrenko in the third round in Manukau in 2016).
Jennings was dropped by Dimitrenko in the fourth round of their fight which finished in a technical knockout win by Jennings in the ninth.
Parker, still ranked eighth by the WBO and 10th by the WBC, has shown interest in a rematch against Joshua and Whyte but neither has shown similar enthusiasm.
A potential crowd-pleasing fight against a ring-rusty opponent could be the perfect way for Parker to return in the New Year.