New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker wants to start his new promotional deal with a bang as Australian-Samoan Alex Leapai was confirmed as his replacement opponent.
They will meet in Providence, Rhode Island on June 30 (NZT) in the first of Parker’s three-fight deal with British promoter Eddie Hearn.
Leapai (32-7-4 26 KOs), comes in at late notice for American Eric Molina.
It’s meant an adjustment for Parker who is under pressure to produce a statement performance as he hits the American market after a lucrative couple of years campaigning in Britain.
“This is my first Parker-Leapai fight with Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN so I want to make that statement, there’s no pressure but I do have to go out there and look good.”
Leapai, who was overwhelmed in his world title challenge against Wladimir Klitshcko in Germany in 2014, has had limited activity since but has taken heart from the way under-rated Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr upset Anthony Joshua in New York just over two weeks ago.
“I am the Samoan Andy Ruiz – the guy everyone writes off,” Leapai said.
“This will be the second massive upset this year because Parker is getting sparked. Then I’m going to take Andy’s Snickers off him!”
Hearn has added pressure to Parker, insisting the Kiwi needs to produce a big performance.
“For Joe, it’s about looking good and making a statement to the division that he is ready to try and reclaim his world title,” Hearn said in confirming the Leapai fight.