Joseph Parker moved closer towards another world heavyweight title challenge after claiming a unanimous 12-round decision over Junior Fa at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday.
At the site of his WBO heavyweight title victory in late 2016 over Andy Ruiz Jr., Parker spent most of the contest looking extremely frustrated as Fa looked to clinch whenever his more experienced opponent tried to string together some offense.
However, the tactic gave Fa, ranked fifth by the WBO heading into this contest, some legitimate rounds as he combined spoiler tactics with some good footwork and some decent punches of his own.
DAZN.com had the fight even at 114-114, six 10-9 rounds apiece after 12. However, the three ringside judges seemed far more taken by Parker's endeavour than Fa's ability to frustrate and chip away.
Parker was judged the winner by scores of 119-109, 117-111 and 115-113. Two of those three cards seemed excessively wide to the majority of spectactors across the world watching via DAZN.
Nonetheless, Parker's win reinforces his hopes of once again challenging for the belt he held until suffering the first loss of his career to Anthony Joshua. With Joe Joyce and Oleksandr Usyk set to battle for the interim WBO title this year amid rumours the winner will be elevated to full champion after Joshua and Tyson Fury have unified in their megafight, the path to another challenge may be coming together.
"Junior and his team did a great job," said Parker (now 28-2, 21 KOs) after the fight. "They came here to fight and it was a lot closer than we expected. We're going to talk now to see who is next for us.
"Fa put on a great performance and had a great team behind him. That showed the ring rust, after over a year. Thank you to everyone for coming tonight."
Fa, now 19-1 with 10 KOs after his first professional defeat, was gracious in defeat despite the questionable scorecards.
"Thank you to everyone for showing up today," he said. "I hope you guys enjoyed it. I, for one, loved it.
"I didn't get caught by too many punches. The cut was from an elbow. I felt fine in there and it did wonders for my confidence to be in there with such a world class boxer."
Parker vs. Fa results
- Joseph Parker UD-12 Junior Fa (119-109, 117-111, 115-113)
- Hemi Ahio KO-7 Julius Long
- David Nyika TKO-1 Jesse Maio
- Nik Charalampous D-6 Panuve Helu (56-58, 57-57, 58-56)
- Jerome Pampellone KO-1 Antz Amouta
For full round-by-round coverage, re-live our live blog below.