Kiwi Joseph Parker’s blockbuster clash with Anthony Joshua grabbed the attention of the sporting world on Sunday morning (NZT).
While the general consensus by boxing scribes was that the bout failed to deliver on its hype, there were plenty of fingers being pointed at controversial Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone for his part in never allowing it to develop into a genuine fight.
- Refereeing madness: Parker denied chance to scrap
- What Anthony Joshua said to Parker's mum
- Fury unleashes on 'pair of bums'
And despite coming in a losing effort, there was also plenty of praise being directed Parker’s way.
Sean Ingle, The Guardian UK
"Of all the boxes that Anthony Joshua had rushed to tick during his whirlwind four-year professional career, only one had remained blank until Saturday night: going the distance in the ring. No more.
"Joseph Parker proved as tough as advertised, outgunned but never overwhelmed, but – tellingly – it was Joshua, with his supposedly suspect stamina, who finished the stronger man as he won a wide and unanimous points decision.
"In truth it wasn't a classic. It was too stop-start for that, with the referee Giuseppe Quartarone rightly taking much of the blame for being too eager to break up every clinch.
"Yet there was enough menace in both men’s work to keep it interesting – even though Joshua’s stiff left jab, which acted like a cattle prod for most of the fight, dominating and repeatedly stinging his opponent, ensured he stayed in control."
Luke Reddy, BBC Sport
"The Briton, 28, used his left hand to telling effect throughout an intriguing affair, in which New Zealand's Parker displayed swift hands, movement and impressive durability.
"But his WBO title always looked like it would end up round Joshua's waist as a significant points gap opened up, with the favourite landing a hard left uppercut in round eight and two stinging left hooks early in the 10th.
"Parker tagged his rival to howls of concern in the 11th and he deserves immense respect for becoming the first man to take Joshua to the scorecards, which read 118-110 118-110 119-109."
Nick Parkinson, ESPN
"By taking Joshua to points for the first time as a professional, Parker showed the Briton is not a relentless knockout monster who stops everyone he gets in the ring with. Parker's display will offer the WBA-IBF-WBO champion's rivals some encouragement.
"Parker's movement foiled Joshua in his pursuit of a finish to end the Briton’s 20-fight knockout run, but the New Zealander did not land enough to win the rounds."
Mike Coppinger, The Ring
"The fight, which was televised on Showtime in the U.S., was a dreary affair, with neither big man willing to take chances. There were no dramatic moments and neither fighter was ever in any danger.
"Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) was able to frustrate Joshua with his educated jab and movement, but the kiwi never landed any telling, damaging blows. And while the fight appeared to be closer than the official scorecards, Parker didn’t establish himself in any of those frames.
"Simply put, it seemed Parker, 26, wasn’t willing to pay the price to work his way on the inside against the bigger, taller man.
"Parker admits he should have “worked on the inside more” and thrown more punches. When the openings were there, he didn’t take advantage, although Joshua was far from dominant.
"The 28-year-old Brit had knocked out all 20 foes he’d faced prior to this night, but Parker was never in any remote danger."
Gareth. A. Davies, The Telegraph UK
"For a superfight, unifying three of the four major world crowns, there were aspects of the showdown which disappointed. Not the efforts of the two young, still-developing heavyweights, but more the manner in which the battle was managed.
"The refereeing was pitiful. All the inside-fighting and clinch-fighting was disallowed by referee Giuseppe Quartarone. He was appalling, constantly separating the two as if it were an amateur Olympic bout.
"Every time a real fight broke out, the Italian intervened. It meant that as the two combatants went to work inside, they could not come apart and exchange. Instead, it was a fight contested 95 per cent at distance.
"Parker, cut on the eye in the 10th and showing a terrific chin, is as tough as they come, taking uppercuts and hooks. But it was not good enough in this meeting and it was Joshua's jab which took the fight away from him after the middle rounds."
Harry Davies, Bloody Elbow
"Defensively, Parker did more than hold his own in the fight, but ultimately the aggression and power punches of Joshua steered the fight in his favor.
"In the early rounds, Parker was fighting on the backfoot often struggling to get into range to land combinations. The New Zealander did a good job using his head movement to slip Joshua’s jabs, but “AJ” was consistent in utilizing his six-inch reach advantage by keeping Parker on the end of his strikes.
"Parker did some good clinch work in the seventh round, digging in hooks to the body of Joshua. On one occasion as the referee attempted to break a clinch, Joshua grazed Parker with a big uppercut on the break, something which made referee Giuseppe Quartarone have a brief word with both men.
"There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary halts to the action from Quartarone, often stepping between Joshua and Parker whilst they were exchanging."