Anthony Joshua added the WBO title to his IBF and WBA heavyweight championships when he comfortably outpointed New Zealand’s Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
AJ was taken the distance for the very first time in his 21-fight professional career but came into the unification bout lean, trim and patiently working the jab in a bout that saw viewers in the arena and watching via pay-per-view frustrated by referee Giuseppe Quartarone and his tendency to break the fighters up early.
The victory means just one heavyweight belt remains for Joshua to attempt to claim: the WBC strap held by Deontay Wilder.
Wilder was conspicuous by his absence, despite being invited to attend the bout between his champion peers, and there are fears the logical Joshua vs Wilder showdown to crown an undisputed heavyweight kingpin for the first time since Lennox Lewis will not happen at all.
And while Joshua vs Parker wasn’t a brilliant fight, it was another sign that AJ is the real deal.
Though Anthony’s tendency to struggle most in the middle rounds was apparent and some, including Yahoo Sport UK, had Parker winning a few in the thick of the 12-stanza contest, the three ringside judges and a few others had it considerably less competitive than that.
Though Parker had some noticeable lands and puffed out his chest around the halfway mark, many of his best swings found little more than the gloves of the Englishman.
Parker began the fight with his guard down low, hoping to entice Joshua into expending energy as early as possible. To his credit, AJ resisted and picked his own moments but just like his rousing Wembley win over Klitschko, those middle rounds were his lowlight.
It’s one thing to recognise an opponent will be more vulnerable at a certain point of a contest, but it’s another to get more out of that fact than simply winning those rounds and Parker was unable to get close enough to do much more than look good and end Joshua’s KO streak.
Part of that came courtesy of Quartarone, as the assigned official consistently cut up the action far too soon. What little dynamic action the human chess match offered was further diluted by the ref, which infuriated pretty much everybody watching the bout.