Anthony Joshua went twelve rounds for the first time in his career, scoring a unanimous decision victory against Joseph Parker, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Joshua, who was defending his IBF, IBO and WBA titles, also claimed Parker’s WBO strap as the spoils of war when he emerged victorious from the unification contest.
At the end of the bout, all three judges at ringside scored the fight in favour of Joshua, returning scorecards of 118-110, 118-110, and 120-108.
The opening round of the contest was a lacklustre affair, with Parker trying to work the jab, and looking for the counter, while on the back foot.
Parker continued to evade Joshua in the second, throwing out sharp jabs, and looking for an opening, but getting caught by very little that Joshua offered up in return.
In round three Joshua worked the jab well and attempted to land vicious, short uppercuts on the inside whenever Parker came forward.
The cat and mouse game continued in round four, with Parker’s awkward style and flicking jab keeping Joshua at bay.
Parker was able to land a jab, followed by a straight right in round five. However, Joshua exacted revenge less than a minute later, landing a left hook.
In round six, Parker hurt Joshua with a stinging right hand, before steaming forward and looking to engage. However, the referee, Giuseppe Quartarone, stepped in to separate the fighters in the midst of the action. When Quartarone brought the two champions back together, the excitement once again subsided and the chess game continued.
In round seven, Quartarone once again made his presence known, stepping in as Joshua unloaded a monstrous uppercut, which just missed an extremely alert Parker.
Parker was caught with a big left in the eighth and tried to initiate a clinch soon after, with Quartarone once again stepping in as Joshua unleashed another uppercut.
In round nine, the referee, now a staple of the contest, intervened once again — this time to check both fighters after an accidental headbutt.
Parker was cut in the tenth after Joshua clipped him with the elbow. As the round progressed, Parker once again evaded yet another monster uppercut from Joshua.
As we entered the championship rounds, Parker continued to dictate the pace with his jab, while Joshua tried to land the uppercut. In the dying moments of the round, both men found success in a quick exchange — Joshua landing a left hook, before being rocked by a stinging body shot from Parker.
In the final round, Joshua steamed forward but was unable to find much success, as an elusive Parker darted around the ring on the back foot.
In a post-fight interview with Sky Sports Joshua spoke about his gameplan and how it felt to go 12 rounds for the first time in his career.
“My strategy was to stick behind the jab, and that secured me another world title belt,” said Joshua. “I thought it was [going to be] hard, but going the twelve rounds was light work.
“I know the bookies say I might get a knockout but forget the hype; Parker was a world champion. This was a boxing match, not a fight. Parker said this would be war; I said this would be boxing finesse.”
A deflated Parker spoke highly of his opponent and signalled his intention to return bigger and better in the near future.
“I lost to the better champion tonight,” said Parker. “We will back again stronger, and I’m happy I went the twelve rounds.”