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Joseph Parker makes emphatic return with win

Joseph Parker has made an emphatic statement in his return to the ring, claiming a resounding first-round knockout win over Faiga ‘Django’ Opelu....

Joseph Parker has made an emphatic statement in his return to the ring, claiming a resounding first-round knockout win over Faiga ‘Django’ Opelu.

Leading into his bout against Opelu in Melbourne on Wednesday night, there had been plenty of talk about Parker’s need to make a statement. He did exactly that, making quick work of his counterpart.

The 31-year-old had the 13cm advantage in the height and reach categories, giving Opelu early problems with his jab as the Samoan-Australian struggled to move in on the inside.

It was a counter shot which was the beginning of the end for Opelu. After trying to close the distance, Parker caught Opelu with a heavy right hand. Parker realised he had Opelu hurt and tried to land some big follow-ups to put the fight away.

While he missed a number of them, another strong right hand caught Opelu and the referee stepped in to avoid Opelu taking any more damage.

The win moveed Parker’s record to 32-3, with the stoppage victory the showcase needed to boost his standing in the heavyweight rankings.

In his post-fight interview, Parker credited Opelu for stepping up to the challenge.

“I’d like to thank Django for taking this fight and putting on the best performance he could.

“I want to keep busy...anyone who’s keen, anywhere. I just want to fight.”

The win was Parker’s first by stoppage since early 2020, with his last four wins coming by decision. In his bid to launch another run toward a world title fight, getting the result - and in devastating fashion - is a big outcome for Parker. He’s now won two fights in a row after being knocked out by Joe Joyce late last year and, while he said he is open to fighting anyone, will surely be looking to take a step up for his next assignment.

Parker’s impressive win capped off a good night for the Kiwi duo in action in Melbourne, with David Nyika maintaining his unbeaten professional record.

Nyika claimed a fourth-round stoppage against Louis Marsters, controlling the fight from start to finish.

It was the second time the cruiserweight had beaten his Australian opponent, with the two fighting on the Gold Coast last year where Nyika won via second-round stoppage.

It was a flurry of body shots and uppercuts from Nyika that got Marsters out of there this time around, with the 27-year-old extending his record to 6-0.

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