Britain’s Joe Joyce walked through the best New Zealander Joseph Parker had to offer to knock out his rival in the 11th round of a thrilling fight in Manchester.
The heavyweights went toe-to-toe in a back and forth contest before a stunning left hook landed flush on the chin of Parker.
Joyce claimed the WBO interim heavyweight title with the biggest win of his career and now has his eyes set on challenging heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in 2023.
The Briton’s step up in class had been debated all week after 14 pro fights against lower-level opponents, but he showed a granite chin to become the first man to stop Parker, a former world champion.
“Joseph Parker, what a fighter,” Joyce said.
“It was a tough fight. What a tough fight. I had to dig deep to get through the rounds. I really enjoyed it.”
Joyce steamrollers to victory
Parker opened the fight brilliantly, utilising his jab, but Joyce was undeterred, pouring forward and bloodying the nose of Parker in the second round.
Parker, 30, landed a crunching left hand only for Joyce to respond with his own. The third round was thrilling, both men exchanging big shots.
Parker was rocked by superb one-two from Joyce, seconds after the Brit had been tagged by a right hand.
The Kiwi stayed on his feet and the ferocious head-to-head continued to the bell.
Joyce was hit again by another big left, but once again stood firm, showing no sign he felt the force of his opponent’s shots.
Now the trend of the fight had developed – Joyce responding with spiteful counters every time Parker landed his eye-catching right hand.
The Briton shrugged off the best Parker had to offer, hard left hooks in the fourth and a massive swinging right in the fifth.
Joyce suddenly picked up the pace in the sixth round, trapping Parker in the corner and unloading.
Parker defended himself in front of his corner and tried to slow Joyce with body shots. But it didn’t stop the onslaught.
The Olympian bloodied Parker’s nose again in the seventh before opening up a big cut above Parker’s left eye.
Parker stumbled backwards under the barrage and Joyce poured forward again, but the bell arrived too soon for the Brit.
Into the eighth round and Parker’s eye was clearly bothering him as he repeatedly touched it. The visiting fighter looked exhausted but finally a hard left caused a reaction from Joyce.
For the first time Joyce staggered under the weight of the shot, but the success was short-lived as Joyce came forward again.
Parker’s left landed again in the eighth and the heavyweight stood still for a second, waiting to see if the immovable object in front of him was hurt. He was not.
With Joyce flooding forward again, Parker smashed him in the face with four short left hooks. No luck.
Joyce then came out swinging in the 11th and finally put his opponent down. Parker missed the count to bring to a close a remarkable battle.
Serrano one step closer to undisputed crown
Amanda Serrano is the new WBO, WBC and IBF featherweight champion after beating Sarah Mahfoud on points.
The Puerto Rican, fighting for the first time since losing to Katie Taylor in April, was levels above her Danish opponent, taking control from the first exchanges and drawing blood in the second round.
Despite her dominance, Serrano was unable to stop her game opponent, who recovered from a shaky start to see the final bell.
Serrano, 33, was clinical and spiteful in her southpaw stance, landing heavy shots throughout the 10 rounds, including some eye-catching left hooks and body shots.
Mahfoud, jittery on her feet to begin with, winced in pain as Serrano fired off at will at times, but slowly grew into the fight.
The defending IBF champion’s corner did her best to patch her up between rounds, with blood streaming from her scalp.
Serrano continued to push forward, walking through Mahfoud’s shots, just as she did so superbly six months ago against Taylor.
Mahfoud found success in the later rounds as Serrano’s pace dropped slightly.
But Serrano was a clear winner in the 43rd win of her career and is one step closer to becoming the undisputed champion at featherweight.
The seven-weight world champion hinted after her win that fans may have to wait for the Taylor rematch.
“She gave me a fight. I want the last piece of the puzzle to become undisputed then I want the rematch with Katie Taylor,” she said.