Boxing: Joseph Parker to make heavyweight return in US next month

Former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker is set to return with a fight in the US next month, according to his manager David Higgins. 

The 27-year-old Kiwi will jet out to Las Vegas in the coming days to prepare for a clash against an as-yet-unnamed opponent.

Parker hasn't fought since scoring a 10th round knockout of Alex Leapai last June in Providence, Rhode Island - in his first bout shortly after signing with promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.

He was scheduled to fight Brit Dereck Chisora last October, but a spider bite ruled Parker out and Chisora decimated Welshman David Price who stepped in on short notice. 

"There are concrete plans, which it's not my place to announce," Higgins told Sky Sports UK. "But there is a date and a venue, and it's the opponent we're waiting on.

"We've been told it will be late February and the United States is what we're told. We're just waiting on who the opponent is."

Despite not fighting in six months, Parker is currently ranked second in the WBO heavyweight rankings, firmly behind mandatory challenger and former World cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Parker previously held the WBO belt before losing it to two-time unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua.

"It will be someone decent," Higgins added. "Joe had a good win over Alex Leapai who fought [Wladimir] Klitschko for a world title, and he won convincingly.

"It's another step-up. He's ranked at two now by the WBO, so it's basically another step towards a better opponent and then after that, should he get a good win, which I think he will, then challenge one of the big boys - Wilder, Fury.

"Joe will fight anyone."

Unless there's another show announced soon, it appears Parker will fight on the undercard of Mikey Garcia v Jessie Vargas in Texas, which takes place on February 29 (local time).