Manchester Arena is expected to be over half empty for Saturday’s world heavyweight title fight between Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury, according to the show’s promoter Mick Hennessy.
Despite a capacity of 21,000 at the indoor venue, which only reopened earlier this month after a terror attack in May killed 22 people, Hennessy is hoping for a crowd of 8,000.
Fury, from Manchester, will be trying to win his first world title when he takes on New Zealander Parker for his WBO title — but only 5,000 tickets had reportedly been sold at the start of the week.
“They [ticket sales] are going up by the day,” Hennessy said at a press conference Thursday.
“These are two world class heavyweights who are on the cusp of making their names and after this one of them will be an elite fighter.
“No one was expecting to fill out stadiums with this fight and we are happy with where it’s at. We are hoping for a crowd of about 8,000.
“There are so many different events happening and the titles are splintered. This is better than other fights but there are a lot of other fights on sale.”
There was no trouble selling tickets for another world heavyweight title fight in the UK last week when 70,000 were sold in a day for Anthony Joshua’s October 28 fight against Kubrat Pulev at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
But a row over who will referee the contest seems to have been resolved.
Parker’s promoter David Higgins wanted a neutral referee but has settled on a change of official from Terry O’Connor to his fellow Briton Marcus McDonnell.
“After the Monday press conference the ref changed and our team is happy about that but we think better practice is a neutral,” said Higgins.
Parker, 25, hopes a second defence leads to a return trip to the UK to take on either WBA-IBF champion Joshua or his fellow Englishman Tony Bellew.
Hughie Fury insists the biggest fight of his life is already behind him, before facing Joseph Parker for his WBO world heavyweight title on Saturday.
Britain’s anti-doping agency says its dispute with former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and his cousin Hughie is being delayed while a tribunal weighs an application made by the boxers to exclude certain evidence.
“I feel like the UK is where the heavyweight scene is at and I want to be a part of it, so I need to make a statement and there’s no better way to do it than fighting a younger hungry fighter like Hughie Fury,” said Parker.
“In the future, you will see me a lot more [in the UK].”
Fury, 23 on Monday, promised to deliver a surprise win just like his cousin Tyson Fury did in November 2015, when he beat Wladimir Klitschko on points for the WBO, IBF and WBA world heavyweight titles.
“You can look at previous fights but no one will have seen what I’m going to bring because this is a new Hughie Fury,” said Fury.
“I’m so hungry to put on a performance. When I say I’m going to knock him out, I’m going to knock him out.”