Story by: Patrick McKendry | NZ Herald
As the hours ticked by to the early morning here in Cardiff and many of the well-lubricated boxing fans drifted away from the stadium, Joseph Parker faced the world's press – his account of his evening's work as honest as his efforts in the ring.
There is no doubt Anthony Joshua is a giant of the sport – he proved that at the Principality Stadium and it seems it's only a matter of time before he takes the WBC world title from the elusive Deontay Wilder to be the unified champion.
He, too, carried himself with dignity after his unanimous points decision, but there was a flash of defiance as well.
The Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone did Parker few favours with his determination to break up anything resembling a fight, and the official will get a few headlines before he fades back into obscurity.
Parker addressed the issue, and an apparent language problem, which caused confusion and anger among some in the boxing world, but the New Zealander wouldn't use it as an excuse.
"When the ref came to the back [dressing room beforehand] he couldn't really speak English," Parker said.
"Kev was trying to talk to him and ask him questions about how he was going to control the fight. We're not blaming the ref but when you go to the inside and try to work…"
Trainer Kevin Barry added: "When one guy has got a 76-inch reach and the other guy's got 84 or 85-inch reach, it's important when we close the distance we're able to work. Unfortunately for us, the referee didn't allow us to do that."
The truth of the matter is the official wasn't the reason why Parker lost and Team Parker know that. Joshua was better than Parker on the night. His jab was better, he landed more power punches, and his fitness and movement was significantly better than his last outing at this venue against Carlos Takam in October.
Parker wasn't quite good enough. The 119-109 and 118-110 (twice) scorecards may appear harsh, but Parker couldn't argue with conviction that he won more than three or four of the 12 rounds.
But, though his WBO belt has gone, he has challenged the best on the biggest stage and that has always been his aim.
"We enjoyed being here, we enjoyed the whole event, we enjoyed the crowd, Parker said, the 26-year-old neither overawed by fighting in front of a crowd of 78,000 nor broken by the experience of his first professional loss.
"The bigger and better man won on the day. We still have things to work on. We're still young, we'll be back and be a champion again.
"He deserved to win. I'm disappointed but we'll be back. I'll take it on the chin."
Parker took a few things on the chin during the 12 rounds.
It wasn't full-blooded warfare – ref Qurtarone saw to that but so too did Joshua's safety-first, technical style. But Joshua landed flush a few times and the south Aucklander didn't flinch, even when catching an elbow in the 10th round which opened up a small cut near his left eye.
Unfortunately for Parker his right hand – a looping overhand rather than a straight right which did the damage for Wladimir Klitschko 12 months ago – didn't find the target enough, although he did get a lot of success with power shots to the body, which Barry believed weren't given enough credit by the judges.
"Credit to Parker, credit to Duco Events – they came, they stepped up, they tried and they'll live to fight another day," Joshua said. "But this is what it's all about, right?," he said, pointing to the four belts laid out in front of him. "This is what we're doing."
Asked if he thought he hurt Parker's "granite chin", Joshua said: "You'll have to ask him. But I know that I was supposed to be in with the fastest heavyweight in the world and I beat him to the majority of punches.
"Yeah, actually, forget the humble s***, I did hurt him, and I bust his eye as well."
Joshua soon recovered his sense of humour, and his smile. He is a bundle of contradictions but clearly the best heavyweight in the world at the moment.