Joseph Parker remains king of the New Zealand heavyweights and on track to push towards the best fighters in the world division after securing a unanimous decision victory over Junior Fa.
Fa, a 6-1 underdog, defied predictions of a knockout by lasting the distance with former amateur foe Parker, more than holding his own over the course of the 12 rounds in the headline event at Spark Arena on Saturday night.
Not even a gaping cut above his right eye could deter Fa from having a crack at a major upset in the biggest New Zealand heavyweight fight since David Tua floored Shane Cameron in 2009.
Hours after Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern plunged Auckland back into Level 3 lockdown for seven days, the three judges all favoured Parker with cards of 109-119, 113-115, 111-117.
This was far from the statement performance Parker sought but it keeps his hopes alive of mounting another charge for a title, with Dereck Chisora expected to be next in line.
Crucially the victory, in-front of a near capacity crowd, preserves Parker's third ranking with the WBO and sets up bigger fights to come.
Fa, following the first defeat of his career, in his 20th professional fight, will need to regroup and assess where to next. The 31-year-old proved his durability but probably needs to come forward more and let his hands go to challenge elite opponents.
There was no evidence of ring rust despite both boxers being out of the ring for over one year.
Like GladrapChannel on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/GladrapChannel/
Follow GladrapChannel on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/gladrap
Support the channel: http://www.patreon.com/gladrapchannel