CARDIFF, Wales — Anthony Joshua was taken the distance for the first time before beating Joseph Parker by unanimous decision and becoming a three-belt world heavyweight boxing champion on Saturday.
Following a fight whose flow was disrupted by the regular interventions of Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone, two judges awarded it to Joshua 118-110 and the other makes it 119-109.
Joshua won his previous 20 fights by knockout but struggled to land many clean shots on Parker, who stayed alive with his movement and counterattacking skills in front of a crowd of 78,000 at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.
"We're not satisfied," Joshua said, "but one step at a time."
Joshua added Parker's WBO strap to his WBA and IBF titles, and moved within one belt of becoming the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
Deontay Wilder holds the other main heavyweight belt, the WBC's, and could meet Joshua before the end of the 2018.
"Wilder, let's go baby," Joshua screamed in his interview inside the ring.
Neither fighter was knocked down and Parker managed to avoid most of Joshua's big bombs, although he finished the fight with a cut around his left eye after catching an elbow in the 10th round.
"I was beaten by the better man," Parker said after losing for the first time in 25 fights.
It was only the second heavyweight unification title bout between unbeaten fighters, after Mike Tyson against Tony Tucker in 1987.