Joe Joyce delivered a sickening knockout to finish off Joe Parker after leaving the New Zealander a bloody mess in a brutal battle.
The British heavyweight retained his status as No 1 challenger for Oleksandr Usyk's WBO title. But this destructive breakdown of former world champion Parker will send a serious message to the rest of the division as he became the first man to stop the Kiwi.
Joyce, 37, yet again showed his granite chin as he took some huge blows from the former champion. He systematically broke down the former WBO king before bringing an end to the bout in the 11th with a superb left hook.
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Parker, who had previously only lost to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, was sent to the canvas. He somehow summoned the strength to get to his feet but referee Steve Gray rightly waved it off as he was still clearly shaken.
Parker’s face was a mess after Joyce opened up a cut over his right eye in the seventh round with a big overhand right. The unbeaten Londoner’s heavy jab was also closing the left eye of the brave Parker.
With WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury watching on and supporting his gym-mate Parker, the Kiwi started well against the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist.
The first half of the fight was evenly contested as Joyce pushed forward but Parker was working the body in a bid to try to slow the relentless favourite. Parker landed some big right hands and cracking left hooks but Joyce barely budged.
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The only time the Juggernaut took a backward step was when Parker landed a left hook in the eighth round. But by that time, the fight had fully swung in the favour of Joyce who was landing at will with huge right hands as well as his pinpoint jab.
It was uncomfortable to watch the further the bout progressed as blood poured into Parker’s right eye which only made it harder for the Kiwi to see those shots coming. He must have been so demoralised as Joyce took everything he could throw at him and it didn’t put a dent in him.
Parker deserves huge plaudits for his bravery but he couldn’t live with the pace set by Joyce. The Putney puncher, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday, found another gear in the sixth which was the start of him taking total control.
Parker last lost in 2018 and had confidence he could upset Joyce but the result was never in doubt as it went into the later rounds. The finish was spectacular as Joyce looped out his left hook and landed it on Parker’s chin.
Now Joyce must wait to see how the heavyweight landscape works itself out with Fury calling out Anthony Joshua but Usyk also wanting his shot at the undisputed crown. But Joyce has ensured with this performance that he is right in the picture.
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