Joseph Parker produced the statement performance he was looking for in Christchurch on Saturday night, despatching American Alexander Flores (17-2-1) with a savage third round knockout.
Flores was left bloodied and unconscious after Parker connected with two thunderous right hands to end the contest.
Flores was competitive throughout the first two rounds, however Parker clearly packed a significant power advantage, and always looked likely to catch the Mexican-American with a telling blow.
“It feels good, really good,” Parker said. “Obviously you hope the other guy is okay but, as a heavyweight boxer, that’s the job you’re trying to do.”
Parker joked that his first fight with chest hair (he has previously waxed his chest) was probably responsible for the unmistakeable increase in his power.
The win now propels the former WBO heavyweight champion firmly back into the mix for another title shot.
WBO Oriental champion Junior Fa made short work of the feature undercard bout, dispatching Argentine journeyman Rogelio Omar Rossi in just 86 seconds.
Fa hurt Rossi early with a clubbing right hand and finished the fight with a monster right hand to send Rossi crashing to the canvas.
In other results, Canterbury’s Bowyn Morgan stopped Fiji’s Sebastian Singh in three rounds to claim the Pro Box NZ super welterweight title.
Singh troubled Morgan early in the fight with some nice combinations but soon wilted under a barrage of close range hooks. Morgan dropped Singh mid-way through the third round with a flurry of punches and, although the Fijian beat the count, the fight was stopped shortly thereafter with Singh failing to respond to another ferocious barrage.
Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist David Light continued his impressive run in the cruiserweight division, despatching Lance Bryant in two rounds.
The quickest stoppage of the night came from Manu Vatuvei, with the former Warriors and Kiwis league star marking the start of his professional boxing career in style by knocking out 19-fight veteran David Brown Buttabean Letele in just 26 seconds.
Letele started the fight on the front foot, landing a solid right hand to Vatuvei’s temple. Vatuvei responded with a crushing uppercut followed to by a right hand to send the Brown Buttabean crashing to the canvas and into a second- and likely permanent – retirement.
Another rising star, Andrei Mikhalovich, marked his 23rd birthday with an impressive victory over Adrian Taihia.
Mikhalovich threatened a stoppage throughout the fight and eventually put his man down with a thumping body shot late in the final round. Taihia beat the count and was rewarded by the sound of the final bell – although a clear decision went to the promising Mikhalovich.
Parker v Flores, presented by Flooring Xtra Results
Joseph Parker def Alexander Flores KO 3
Junior Fa def Rogelio Omar Rossie KO 1
Bowyn Morgan def Sebastian Singh KO 3
David Light def Lance Bryant KO 2
Manu Vatuvei def David Letele (Brown Buttabean) KO 1
Andrei Mikhalovich def Adrian Taihia (unanimous decision)
Michaela Jenkins def Megyn McLennan (majority decision)
Sam Watt def Alistair Boyd (unanimous decision)
Bjorn Horrack def Quintin Poole (split decision)