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Could Parker face Joyce in rematch? ‘We’ll look at the best option’

Joseph Parker’s promoter David Higgins says the New Zealander could explore a rematch against Joe Joyce if it emerges as a better option than a second encounter with Zhilei Zhang. 

Parker is currently enjoying the best form of his career having convincingly beaten Deontay Wilder at the end of 2023 before recently overcoming two knockdowns to defeat Zhilei Zhang.

Zhang had notably arrived riding the momentum of back-to-back stoppage victories over Joyce, who represents one of few blemishes on Parker’s career after recording an 11th-round knockout when the heavyweight rivals met in September 2022.

Parker is contracted to face Zhang in a rematch, though could yet look elsewhere.

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Joseph Parker picked himself off the canvas twice to defeat Zhilei Zhang by majority decision in Saudi Arabia.

“The contract is for the Zhang rematch but these things do vary if everyone agrees,” Parker’s promoter Higgins told Sky Sports, when asked about a potential rematch against Joyce.

“If there was a better option then we would look at the better option as long as everybody agrees. Those discussions are to be had.

“Joseph’s instructions to me were he wants to fight the best in the world, he wants to fight opponents ranked above him, that’s where his head is at.

“He wants to fight Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, but you’ve got to be patient and take your opportunities so you don’t rule anything out.”

Joyce recently returned to the ring for the first time since his third-round stoppage defeat in his rematch to Zhang last September, knocking out Kash Ali in the last 30 seconds of the 10th and final round.

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Joseph Parker says hard work has been key to his success after beating Zhilei Zhang via majority decision.

Parker’s win over Zhang lifted him to 35-3 in his professional career, marking a fifth straight success since losing to Joyce and seeing him take another step towards the world’s elite heavyweights.

Higgins believes the standard of Parker’s opponents should see him earn a world title shot before Anthony Joshua, who is coming off a devastating second-round knockout win over former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

“He’s interim WBO champion which means he’s the automatic mandatory for the WBO title so if he’s prepared to wait and things operate as they should he should be offered a title shot in due course,” Higgins added. “You would like to think immediately.

“No disrespect to Anthony Joshua, he’s looked good in his last few fights, but the opponents were nowhere near the level Joseph has boxed so Joseph should really be ahead of Joshua in the pecking order.

“But it doesn’t feel that way such is the way boxing works, even if you beat the best you have to be patient.”

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Watch all angles of Anthony Joshua’s incredible knockout punch which ended his fight with Francis Ngannou.

Parker boasts one of the most impressive and busiest resumes among active heavyweights, despite having only turned 32 in January.

Higgins says his fighter is enjoying a “new-found energy” since linking up with trainer Andy Lee and nutritionist George Lockhart.

“I think it was an almost complete performance by Joseph Parker,” Higgins said of his performance against Zhang. “We’ve followed his ups and downs but it was wonderfully gratifying for the Parker team to see him fight to a plan and deliver a plan and up the pressure.

“He got knocked down and had he lost his nerve at any point Zhang would have finished him off. He continued to execute the plan which is very encouraging, it showed an old dog can learn new tricks.

“He’s not old in calendar years but he’s probably fought the most top-quality opponents of anybody in the game. There’s a lot of experience.”

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