World champion Anthony Joshua won the first heavyweight unification bout held on British soil as he gained a unanimous points verdict against Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium. The Brit's height and reach advantage lead to the undoing of the Kiwi late in the fight.
Parker had always targeted around 107kg to 108kg while Joshua's weight is the lightest of his career.
Parker pledged to outwork, outbox and outlast Joshua, no doubt garnering encouragement from his opponent's workmanlike showing against Carlos Takam last time out, but it was the 28-year-old Briton who decisively banked rounds down the closing stretch, with his opponent never able to crack the puzzle presented to him by a spearing left jab.
Britain's Anthony Joshua has added the WBO belt to his collection of titles with a win over Joseph Parker. "He needs to think about doing 12 rounds for the first time in his life".
It wasn't without controversy.
Joshua had to rely on the judges for the first time in his professional career as he triumphed by scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 after a fight that had its moments, but no knockdowns.
"I saw confidence in Joshua". That's what I'm going for and that's what my mindset is.
With good looks, Herculean muscles and a ideal 20 knockouts in 20 professional bouts, Joshua has quickly become one of the sport's biggest global stars.
Joshua made a fifth defense of his IBF title and second of the WBA strap on a night that reportedly earned him £13 million and Parker £7 million.
"If Dillian gets in the ring kudos to him".
Alexander Povetkin of Russian Federation became the mandatory challenger for the WBA heavyweight belt after brutally knocking out David Price in the fifth round of an action-packed fight.
Parker won't get cleaned out because he's a tough unit. Both men were cagey but Joshua was especially so.
Joshua's knees buckled from a counter right hook late in the 11th, after hurting Parker.
Joshua has stated that he isn't looking past Parker for a possible 2018 megabout with Wilder.
Parker was welcomed to the stage by a Maori and Samoan haka while Joshua arrived soon after to the tune of a brass band that then morphed into the new hit single of Canadian rapper Drake God's Plan. It was a close round but Parker may have edged it.
"So far Parker hasn't been in stressful situations in the ring like Joshua has, but he does possess some attributes that you have to take seriously". Parker scored with a right uppercut, but Joshua probably edged it.
Prospects of the bout moving through the gears were tempered by the irritatingly over-zealous referee Giuseppe Quartarone, while Parker could not match up to all his pre-fight promises. He said afterwards he thought he broke his right hand in the third round.
Joshua may be the favourite in the eyes of many pundits but he said this week: "You still need to keep that challenger's mindset". He also scored with the dramatic head shots which brought the crowd into the fight.
The night is Joshua's and deservedly so - he is a great champion.