Kiwi heavyweight Kali Meehan keen on fight with domestic rival Joseph Parker
Rejuvenated heavyweight Kali Meehan wants to fight Joseph Parker this year but an agreement over the purse size could prove difficult.
As manoeuvres begin behind the scenes to make the fight, Parker's handlers are publicly taking a lukewarm attitude.
But the Stuff.co.nz understands Parker's Australian-based matchmaker, Stuart Duncan, approached Meehan last week, and discussions are on-going.
A fight between the two biggest active names in the New Zealand heavyweight ranks would generate significant local interest, much more so than Parker's opponent on Thursday, American Jason Pettaway.
Meehan, who many believe was dudded in a split decision loss against Lamon Brewster for the WBO crown in 2004, re-established his standing after claiming the inaugural Super8 and ending Shane Cameron's career. At 44, he is past his prime but his experience and power would challenge Parker.
Meehan's value is his height – three centimetres taller than Parker at 1.96m – and WBA Pan African belt, formerly held by Cameron, David Tua and Alexander Ustinov.
"It makes sense that we fight," Meehan said of a fight with Parker. "That's the fight the New Zealand public want and deserves to see. They deserve to see the best fights. We've got a paying public to look after.
"He's young, strong and he hasn't lost yet. A fighter who hasn't lost hasn't learnt how to lose. He knows how to box and has good people guiding him so it will be a hard fight.
"When my fighting career is all over I'd like to say I fought everyone in my time that was the best. I've been round the top of the Pacific area for the past 10 years. Now Joe is coming up – the fans like those sort of fights. In a way I owe it to the boxing public. I've never dodged anybody."
After 12 undefeated fights, Parker is ranked ninth with the WBO and 10th in the WBA. His focus is clear – to continue charting the respective organisations with a view to an eventual title shot.
Attracting opponents will only become more difficult, though, with eight ranked fighters, including Fres Oquendo, Tony Thompson, Lucas Browne, Christian Hammer and Chris Arreola, understood to have rejected offers recently. Meehan seems a ready-made headline opponent, offering the chance to increase Parker's credibility and appeal.
"Kali offers us nothing," Duco Events promoter Dean Lonergan claimed. "If we knock out Kai Meehan we're not going to move up any rankings as a result. Joe Parker will knock him out in round three rounds.
"Our goal is to have Joe in the top two or three within in the next year. To do that we've got to fight ranked guys."
Money is a sticking point. Meehan is thought to have banked between $100,000 and $150,000 for his fight with Cameron – a price tag Duco balk at. The fight would also need rival boxing companies, Sky Arena and Duco, to work together. It is understood Duco want Meehan to fight Parker for around $65,000.
Despite Lonergan's denials, two independent sources confirmed Duco and Meehan were discussing a Parker fight, possibly for the end of the year.
"Kali Meehan has massively distorted expectations on purse. Last time around he got paid an exorbitant amount of money to fight Shane Cameron," Lonergan said.
"If Kali Meehan wants to get knocked out in three rounds and he does it for a reasonable price we'll have a serious think about it. You never say never but when Kai Meehan brings something to the table we'll say yes. At the moment I'm not seeing anything."
Meehan's manager, Adam Watt, indicated his charge could fight Parker and then Tua, provided he gets in shape, this year.
"We have a contract to fight David Tua at the end of the year," Watt revealed. "That's the ultimate goal but we've been reached out to by Duco to fight Parker. They are calling us for the fight and we are interested."