Joe Joyce has added further chaos to the heavyweight division after beating Joseph Parker to become the WBO interim champion.
Joyce, aptly nicknamed 'The Juggernaut', showed a granite-like chin to come through a testing contest with Parker at Manchester's AO Arena on Saturday.
The Briton and former WBO champion Parker went toe-to-toe for 11 rounds with a fine back-and-forth spectacle.
Parker was landing some heavy shots but Joyce relentlessly walked the Kiwi down and it turned into an all-out brawl by round three.
Joyce didn't seem to be impacted by Parker's power, shrugging off the best he had to offer, before eventually getting the job done in round 11.
He was already ahead on the scorecards but clearly wanted to earn a statement win and he did just that when landed a left hook clean on Parker's chin.
The Kiwi failed to answer the count and the contest was subsequently waved off.
Boxing fans aren't always lucky enough to see the best fighters square off but, with Joyce ranked number one in the WBO division and Parker sitting number two, they were given just that on Saturday.
Joyce admitted in the build-up that he was taking a gamble when he could have gone after an easy opponent. However, that gamble now looks like a really smart one with his reputation soaring.
The 37-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable rise since turning professional just six years ago after making a late start to his amateur career.
There were plenty of debates to be settled over Joyce's suitability to go up against the best in the world but he appears to have put those to bed.
He's now among the biggest names in the extremely exciting heavyweight conversation and has his sights firmly set on WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in 2023.
Now the WBO mandatory challenger, Joyce will be looking to set up that bout as soon as possible but Tyson Fury's desire to agree an undisputed bout could throw a spanner in the works.
The heavyweight division has become extremely competitive over the past 12 months and Joyce's introduction to the top-tier further complicates the picture.
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There are plenty of other potential opponents out there for Joyce in the meantime, although taking up one of those challenges will put his reputation and undefeated record at risk.
The likes of Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr have already been touted as fights to make, while Fury or Anthony Joshua could end up standing across from Joyce if they fail to agree terms on their all-British showdown.
Fury and Joshua, who continue to go back and forth on terms for their mouthwatering meeting, now have a new rival to consider.
The pair did appear to be close to getting the contract wrapped up for a proposed bout on 3rd December but, as often proves to be the case, it's not quite as simple as it initially seemed.
The Gypsy King was ringside in Manchester on Saturday, offering support to training partner Parker, and he took the opportunity to set a deadline of Monday for Joshua to put pen to paper.
Joshua has since fired back to say his lawyers are still looking over the terms, while promoter Eddie Hearn said there was "no chance" it would be sorted by Monday.
Fury insists he will be fighting on 3rd December come what may but that may come too soon for Joyce after this weekend's exploits.
After back-to-back losses in 2018, Parker had put his career back on track by stringing together six successive victories.
His first career defeat came against Joshua and saw Parker lose his WBO belt, while he fell to a loss at the hands of Dillian Whyte in his next trip to the ring.
Whyte lost to Fury in April and looks to be the next target for Parker with the New Zealander, who fell to a unanimous decision loss when they last met, stating they have "unfinished business".
"I'd love to fight Dillian Whyte. If he's free and available and there's nothing locked in for him, I think it would be a great fight," Parker said.
"He's coming off a loss, I'm coming off a loss, if we can make it happen it would be great because the first fight was a close fight."
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