Joseph Parker was glad to end his 2018 “with a bang” and defiant after being accused of low blows by beaten opponent Alexander Flores.
The former WBO heavyweight champion has had a disappointing year, losing high-profile bouts on points against British duo Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte.
But Parker defeated Flores with a third-round knockout in Christchurch on Saturday, his first fight in home country New Zealand for 18 months.
The win was not without controversy, though, with American Flores accusing Parker of striking him low on multiple occasions and complaining to referee John Conway.
But Parker, who received two warnings from Conway, said after his victory: “I’m the fighter. There’s a ref who does his job, and the judges.
“Alexander seems to think I hit him low three or four times. I know I hit him low once but that’s the fight game.
“All I do is throw the punches and make them land. We finished the year on a high and now it’s time to have a break.
“We had two losses this year and this is the fight we wanted to end the year with – a bang. We wanted the knockout and we got it.”
When pressed further, Parker insisted any low blows were “unintentional, but I knew there was a few”, adding: “But he didn’t get knocked out with a body shot.”
Parker (25-2) has been linked with a fight against Lucas Browne in the early part of next year, while he has said publicly he would love a rematch against Whyte.
His trainer Kevin Barry said: “We were badly looking for a knockout to end the year with and I thought Joe looked tremendous.
“There’s a lot of frustration in Joseph Parker. We had a big year but came up short and Joe really wanted to let his hands go and get the knockout.
“He didn’t knock him out with a low blow, he knocked him out with a right hand on the chin and spun his eyes in the back of his head and he was down for about two minutes with his eye split open.
“Were there a couple of blows that were a little low? Yeah, there was a couple of low ones. If anything it might silence a few people that said Joseph Parker’s too much of a nice guy.”