Bigger and better things await Joseph Parker after a hard-fought unanimous decision win over a game Junior Fa at Auckland's Spark Arena.
The former WBO champion played the aggressor throughout the 12 rounds, eking out a 119-109, 115-113 and 117-111 victory.
But the fight was much closer than the scorecards reflected, with Fa landing significant blows throughout the bout, while avoiding most of the significant attacks from his fellow Kiwi.
But ultimately the output of Parker through the middle of the fight built a big enough lead in the judges minds, to notch up his 28th career win.
It was Fa who started brightest, noticeably wobbling Parker at the end of the first round with a heavy right hand. But, Parker eased his way into the fight and slowly closed the distance on his bigger opponent.
But it was far from pretty with both men happy to clinch and dirty box at times, which played into Fa's hands.
Fa hurt Parker again in round six, and with a straight right hand to open the 11th, but at no time did the 29-year-old appear in serious danger.
A cut above his left eye hampered Fa in the closing stages of the bout, which was caused by a wayward elbow during a clinch in the ninth round.
The two engaged in several sluggish exchanges in the final two frames and both appeared confident when time ran down.
But Parker was the happier after the scorecards were read and now sets up a big-money fight with Dereck Chisora later on the year.
The Aucklander should retain his No.3 ranking in the WBO and a win over Chisora will likely book Parker a shot at regaining the title he lost to Anthony Joshua - who appears likely to vacate the title in the coming months.
Earlier, City Kickboxing prospect Hemi Ahio won a heavyweight slugfest against 7ft 1 Julias Long.
Ahio rebounded from a fourth round knockdown with a vicious left hook late in the seventh, ending the fight with one punch.
Double Commonwealth Games gold medalist David Nyika won his professional debut, dispatching Jessie Maio in 20-seconds.