Parker v Chisora: Kiwi's career still alive after split-decision victory over Brit

Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker lives to fight another day, after a narrow split-decision victory over British rival Derek Chisora at Manchester.

The former WBO world champion was in trouble early, rocked by his opponent with the first punch of the bout and hitting the deck, but dusted himself off and slowly took control of the fight over the later rounds.

Parker, 29, appeared to have Chisora at his mercy in the final round, with both fighters keenly aware that the contest may rest on those dying moments, but he let him off the hook and had to wait for the judges' decision.

The three judges scored 115-113 Chisora, 116-111 & 115-113 Parker.

Afterwards, the fighters seemed to lock in a rematch - a puzzling decision, since this was meant to be the win that launched Parker back into title contention. A rematch with Chisora would surely stall that process and possibly derail it, if he loses.

"We can do a rematch in the next fight," says Parker. "It was a tough fight.

"I got caught at the beginning, so I dug deep and stayed focused. Derek is very tough, he put pressure on, threw big bombs and landed a lot.

"The boxing skills from the mid-rounds until the end [won the fight for me]. It was close, it could have gone either way.

"It is achievable [to win a world title]. I have to work on a few things with Andy Lee."

After the knockdown, Chisora dominated the opening rounds, but the longer the fight went, the more Parker came back into contention through superior fitness.

The 37-year-old Brit was understandably disappointed at another close loss, after a unanimous decision loss to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk last October.

Joseph Parker with trainer Andy Lee
Joseph Parker with trainer Andy Lee. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm beyond getting upset now," says Chisora. "It's difficult because I train hard, I fight, I put pressure on and this is the treatment I get from boxing.

"My last fight... this fight... they don't like me. It's disappointing.

"I can't get upset. It's horrible... I give everything, but these are the results I get.

"If he wants to give me the rematch, I will take it.

"His coach Andy Lee said I won the fight!"

After dispatching hometown rival Junior Fa nine weeks ago, Parker also dispatched longtime trainer Kevin Barry to hook up with Irishman Lee for the Chisora fight. This result buys Parker a little more time to consolidate that new relationship.

"After the fight, Joe said, 'I'm not sure if we got this'," confirms Lee. "Derek is a warrior and we love him for the fights he has given us."

In the last fight on his current contract with Matchroom Boxing, Parker's victory comes with the vacant WBO Intercontinental heavyweight belt and brings his career record to 29-2.