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Laborious Parker retains WBO belt

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/05/2017 Angelo Risso

It wasn't the statement knockout victory he wanted but Joseph Parker has retained his WBO heavyweight title in his last fight on home soil.

The 25-year-old South Aucklander laboured to a unanimous points victory over Razvan Cojanu on Saturday, outboxing the languid Romanian from first to last but never looking likely to land a killer blow on his former sparring partner.

The 202cm Cojanu, ranked No.14 by the WBO, rarely troubled Parker and spent much of the night engaging in spoiling tactics and taunts.

Yet despite his cautious approach - only halted in the final stages, as both boxers swung out - Parker couldn't dent the big Romanian or send him to the canvas.

He eventually won through the backing of all three judges, with one judge deeming the fight 119-108 in Parker's favour and the other two scoring 117-110.

It's a performance that will fill Deontay Wilder, Tony Bellew and Hughie Fury - all rumoured to be Parker's next opponent - with plenty of confidence.

Camp Parker, however, said the fight wasn't as clear-cut as some may imagine.

Cojanu's intimacy with the group - he was imitating Fury in sparring before the Briton's injury withdrawal a fortnight ago - gave him unprecedented insight into Parker's style, combinations and deficiencies.

For that reason, trainer Kevin Barry was satisfied with Parker's showing in Manukau - even if he did expect his fighter to stop proceedings earlier.

"Every time Joe was in a position to set up a combination, Razvan had seen it many times before - in over 100 rounds in the gym," Barry said.

"I knew it was going to be that sort of fight.

"I've never seen him hurt - that's why we use this guy, because he's so bloody durable."

Parker had the edge on his burly opponent from the outset, landing several body blows and forcing him into the corner within the first round.

The second ensued in a similar fashion, as Parker struck Cojanu with combinations to the body and left-handed jabs to the head.

Yet try as he might, an increasingly exasperated Parker couldn't make the Romanian crumble or drop his guard as the rounds wore on.

Cojanu stayed on his feet throughout, brushing off a barrage of Parker blows without genuinely landing one of his own before the final bell.

Nevertheless, Parker - who now has a 23-0 record - said he was glad to avoid an all-out brawl, and the accompanying possibility of a shock Cojanu knockout.

"He's picked up on my style and knows how I fight," Parker said.

"I felt like my fitness was great, breathing was good, just the connection wasn't really there with the punches - but he can take a punch.

"We didn't allow him to execute his plan - this was his chance, his Super Bowl."

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