Joseph Parker eager for more pro action
It's not bad when an Olympic gold medallist comes looking for your autograph and rising heavyweight boxing star Joseph Parker was more than happy to oblige for Eric Murray who had just completed a gutsy debut in the ring.
Parker hadn't even had time for a shower after his third round demolition job of Richard Tutaki in the feature professional bout on the Fight For Life programme before Murray was knocking on his door.
Adorned in his black Olympics blazer, a clearly chuffed Murray was seeking signatures on his fight singlet, having lasted the distance against Warrior Manu Vatuvei.
Murray said the experience had given him respect for what the professionals go through.
Parker got a photo taken on his phone of he and Murray and the pair swapped tales.
It was that sort of night.
Parker seemed as happy rubbing shoulders with Murray as he was with his own impressive performance.
The 20-year-old looked comfortable on the biggest stage of his blossoming pro career that has now produced three knockout wins.
He's eager for more and his handlers want to keep him busy.
The next assignment will probably come across the Tasman at the end of January on the undercard of Anthony Mundine's fight with Daniel Geale.
It's a promotion where Wallabies rugby star Quade Cooper will make his boxing debut and the event will bring the Parker handlers in contact with Khoder Nasser who manages both Cooper and Sonny Bill Williams.
The Parker camp have Williams on their radar, believing their man can unify the two New Zealand heavyweight belts. Williams has one and the other belongs to US-domiciled Chauncy Welliver who seems unlikely to defend it before he has to vacate it in January.
Get that belt, and then take on Williams would keep the Parker train steaming ahead.
"We want the New Zealand title ... we have talked about it," said Parker's trainer, former WBA world middleweight champion Maselino Masoe.
Masoe is pleased with the rapid progress Parker has made in his short time since turning pro and believes his potential is unlimited.
Parker has deadly fast hands for a big man and improving power. But it's his work ethic that Masoe is most impressed with.
"He's very dedicated. He really wants this," Masoe said.
"I'm happy with the way Joseph is performing. He's in good shape. I thought he did well against Tutaki. I told him not to waste his punches, to pick his shot.
"He still has a lot to learn and he can do better than that but it was a step up and a step in the right direction."
Parker's speed meant Tutaki was reduced to desperate defence. His attack was non-existent, paralysed by the need to cover up from the Parker onslaught.
Parker went to the body, crippling Tutaki with a body punch late in the second round and then finishing him off with an assault to the head that was crowned by a classic uppercut in the third round.
"I'm very pleased. He covered up good but I slowly got in there," Parker said.
"I really felt I moved forward with this fight. It was a big occasion and it was great to have the support there. I'll have a bit of a break for Christmas, spend some time with my family and then the plan is to get on the Mundine card.
"That's the one we are aiming for and I'm relay looking forward to it, I know I'll need to be on top of my game."
The Fight For Life organisers were delighted with their latest promotion, declaring it their best yet and signalling a strong intention to repeat it next year.
They certainly got good value from the sportsmen they took out of their comfort zones.
Carlos Spencer and Rene Ranger looked the best of the New Zealanders while Aussie league hard man Paul Gallen was a standout with his unanimous points win over the supremely confident Hika Elliot.
Greg Bird (league) b Rene Ranger (rugby) majority points.
Manu Vatuvei (league) b Eric Murray (rowing) unanimous points
Paul Gallen (league) b Hika Elliot (rugby) unanimous points
Carlos Spencer (rugby) b Jarrod McCracken (league) unanimous points
Troy Flavell (rugby) drew with Willie Mason (league)
Men's heavyweight: Joseph Parker (NZ) b Richard Tutaki (NZ) TKO 3rd rnd
Women's lightweight: Daniella Smith (NZ) b Lauryn Eagles (Aus) unanimous points.