Joseph Parker farewells New Zealand in underwhelming boxing title fight
Goodbye, Joe, thanks for all you have done for New Zealand boxing. It is a shame, though, you and your team could not deliver a more deserving, fitting farewell.
Saturday night's comfortable but dour points win over Romanian challenger Razvan Cojanu closed a memorable chapter in Parker's career - one he can largely reminisce over fondly.
Undefeated after 23 wins and 18 knockouts, Parker's fighting days in New Zealand, for the foreseeable future at least, have finished.
But his underwhelming farewell did not go to script. From too many empty seats at the 3000-capacity arena in Manukau, to the sparring-like action in it, this was not befitting of what the 25-year-old has achieved to date. It did him more harm than good.
We were told the venue was sold out - it looked otherwise. Those that were there were restless; those who did not turn up did not miss much.
Cojanu never came to steal the title. He was more interested in verbally baiting, holding and frustrating Parker. To a large extent that worked, making for a disappointing spectacle.
Cojanu, with his inside knowledge after over 80 rounds of sparring, took all Parker had to give, but no-one will sign up to watch the replay.
Give his stage in career, this was probably the worst promotion of Parker's career. Much of the blame can be laid at Hughie Fury's feet after the Englishman controversially pulled pin two weeks out with a dubious back injury.
In hindsight, calling this event off may have been the better option.
Fury's absence saw Parker's first title defence go from highly anticipated to significantly downscaled, dimming hype and expectations.
Compared to the electric atmosphere that resonated from every seat at Vector Arena last December when Parker made New Zealand boxing history by capturing the WBO world heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jnr, this event fell flat.
But his time at home should not be remembered solely on that note.
Parker's five-year pro career has seen him clean up opponents in Auckland, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Christchurch and Invercargill, building a passionate legion of Kiwi fans along the way.
Those people who attended Parker shows will generally tell you how captivating the main event is live. Opponents haven't always been high quality but that's how the boxing game works. Build a record before you build the mansion.
Parker arrived on the Kiwi boxing scene at a time when David Tua and Shane Cameron - two legends of the sport here - began to fade, and quickly became a star in his own right.
Whatever your opinion of Duco as a promotions company, their handling of Parker once again elevated NZ boxing to the mainstream. Sideshows came and went. Through it all, Parker has been the central theme holding it all together.
Unfortunately for the Kiwi punter, he has now outgrown the local market. While things are going well Parker will continue to train in Las Vegas - fight overseas, and return home only for holidays.
Even before Fury pulled out leading sponsors, the likes of Burger King, had walked away and the financial pressure of squeezing money out of corporates and the pay-per-view market became too difficult to stage profitable fights here without any form of local or central government support.
Offshore, the money in the UK in particular is now far too enticing to keep Joe at home.
The sad part for the New Zealand boxing fan is they are now left questioning who is next? Where will the next star emerge from to carry these black tie, glamorous gown events.
Junior Fa, Parker's amateur foe, is lurking with an 11-0 record. But he will fight at least three times a year in the States.
Perhaps we will look back over this period and realise just how good it was to witness the rise of a Kiwi champion.
The time has come for Parker to go global; to prove his credentials.
Future fights will offer better entertainment than Cojanu but won't see nearly as many New Zealanders in the stands.
Despite the disappointing finale, they'll still be in Parker's corner.