Kiwi Joseph Parker has made a timely statement, with a convincing first-round knockout win over Faiga Opelu at Melbourne.
The former WBO world champion unleashed a combination, punctuated with a heavy right hand, to send Opelu stumbling to the mat, prompting the referee to immediately intervene and wave off the contest.
Marking his debut bout on Australian soil in style, the knockout is Parker's first in more than three years, dating back to his finish of American Shawndell Winters in February 2020.
The win is his second straight since his defeat to Joe Joyce last September, following up his straightforward - albeit lacklustre - victory over Jack Massey at Manchester at the start of the year.
The result also adds some desperately needed impetus to Parker's bid for another run at a world title and he's eager to maintain that momentum.
"It was about making a statement," Parker (32-3) said. "I know I haven't had the best performances of late… but I want to move on to the next one and fight as soon as I can.
"I want to keep busy. I need to keep busy to get back to the top."
The chasm in quality with the Brisbane-based tradie was evident immediately and it only took 1m 30s for Parker to put an end to proceedings, barely breaking a sweat in the process.
Weighing in at his lightest since his heavyweight title unification defeat against Anthony Joshua in 2018, Parker's preparation under Andy Lee in the UK boxing hotbed of Morecambe had clearly paid dividends with his lean, chiselled physique.
World heavyweight champion and training partner Tyson Fury was one of the first inside the ring to congratulate his longtime friend, quickly proclaiming to the Margaret Court Arena that the South Aucklander was back to his best.
"It was a great performance," Fury said. "It just goes to show how hard Joseph has been working in the gym.
"There's a lot of levels to this, and Joe's a former champion and soon to be back there in my opinion.
"Joseph Parker is f**king back on the map!"
Trainer Lee stresses the importance of Parker getting back inside the ring as quickly as possible and is adamant his pupil has what it takes to return to the pinnacle of the division.
"He needs activity, but he'll be ready for anyone," Lee replied, when asked who Parker should fight next. "He's as good as any heavyweight that's out there.
"This man behind us [Fury] is No.1, we know that, but he can be No.2. He just needs activity and consistency, and he'll be there."
Parker's encouraging display rounded out an excellent evening for the NZ contingent, with David Nyika also earning an emphatic TKO finish in his rematch with Louis Marsters.2023-05-24T12:16:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd