Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker has joined the ranks of Eddie Hearn's UK-based Matchroom Boxing, and he already has his first opponent lined up.
The 27-year-old will return to the ring against American Eric Molina on June 29 in Providence, Rhode Island on the undercard of the WBO middleweight world title fight between Demetrius Andrade and Maciej Sulecki.
That bout will be the first in a three-fight deal with Hearn, as the former WBO champion looks to rejuvenate his title prospects among a stable of fighters headlined by British phenomenon Anthony Joshua.
His former promoter at Duco, David Higgins, will remain as part of his circle in a management advisory role.
"Since my contract with Duco ended I have been a free agent," said Parker. "With my team and I spending several months assessing how to best achieve my goal of not only becoming a world champion again, but unifying all of the belts to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world."
Parker said he and his management team conducted a robust process that included seeking offers from boxing's most prominent promoters.
"Ultimately we decided that the best option was to partner with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. We believe the three-fight deal that we are announcing today will be the start of a long and successful partnership."
Hearn said he had no doubt Parker has the potential to recapture a heavyweight title.
"If Joseph Parker performs the way we all know he can over these next three fights then he will have a strong case for another shot at Anthony Joshua," Hearn said.
"There’s certainly unfinished business there, so this is a really exciting signing for Matchroom."
But in the immediate future lies the challenge of 37-year-old Molina (27-5), a veteran who's fought the cream of the heavyweight crop, including Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
After serving a two-year suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, Molina returned with a win over Nick Guivas in February.
Trainer Kevin Barry is confident that Parker has the tools to back up his knockout win over Alexander Flores in December with a head-turning performance in Rhode Island..
"Joseph is primed and ready for the next stage of his career," Barry said. "He knows what lies ahead.
"Eric Molina has twice fought for the heavyweight championship of the world… this is the perfect challenge for Joseph – and one that he is ready for."