Anthony Joshua is one step closer to becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion. He just needs one more belt to take the title, but he will have to take on the self-described "baddest man in the world."
British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua took 12 rounds to beat New Zealand's Joseph Parker in their title unification bout on Saturday.
It was the first time Joshua did not win with a knockout in his 21-fight professional career.
The 2012 Olympic champion added Parker's WBO belt to his own WBA Super, IBF and IBO titles with a unanimous points decision of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109. That leaves only Deontay Wilder's WBC title to be named undisputed champion.
"I was switched on, focused and went 12 rounds. It was light work," said Joshua after the bout. "This was about boxing finesse. I stuck to my word."
Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone faced criticism for interrupting the flow of the fight. The inexperienced referee attracted boos from the 78,000-strong crowd at Cardiff's Principality Stadium at his first world heavyweight title fight.
"Ref seemed too hurried to break them up at times," tweeted former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. "But it was a clear win for AJ and he showed maturity (and) patience."
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Both fighters were undefeated before the contest, but Joshua weighed in six pounds heavier than his shorter opponent and had a longer reach.
"I know the bookies say I might get a knockout ... but forget the hype, Joseph Parker is a world champion. So I knew he was going to be determined. So this does become a boxing match, not a fight," Joshua said.
Parker took his first defeat in his 25-match career with grace, saying: "Today I got beaten by a better champion, a bigger man."
"I'm going to come back stronger. No regrets, take it on the chin. Better man on the day."
The win ups the pressure on WBC heavyweight champion Wilder, who took to Twitter after the fight to insist he was "the baddest man in the world, the baddest man on the planet, and that's fact."
aw/cmk (Reuters, AP, AFP)