Almost as soon as Dillian Whyte's arm was raised in London on Sunday, the Joseph Parker post-mortem began.
Ultimately though, it will be on Parker to chart his path back to the top of the division. Can Parker become a world heavyweight champion once more? Here are the cases for and against:
Yes: He's one of the best technical boxers in the division
Parker was clearly the superior boxer against Whyte. For long periods in the fight, Parker was simply out-landing and out-boxing the British brawler, utilising his jab and footwork to win many of the crucial early rounds.
He was even looking good in the second round before what appeared to be an accidental headbutt which was ruled as legitimate by English referee Ian John Lewis – handing Parker his first knock down of his career.
In fact, if the referee had spotted the headbutt and ruled accordingly, the fight – which was scored 113-112, 114-111, 115-110 by the judges' scorecards – would've been a draw. (The first judge would've handed the fight to Parker, the second a draw, and the third judge would've scored it to Whyte.) The headbutt changed the entire complexion of the fight, causing Parker to stray from his game plan.
Team Parker are even reportedly planning on appealing the result of the fight because of the missed second round headbutt.
No: He might be too technical?
You might be successful by out-boxing and outsmarting your opponent in any other division, but at heavyweight, the margin for error is significantly smaller.
At the end of the day, fights almost never go to plan – as Parker can attest. And sometimes, the sport calls for something more than just skill and technique. It is those intangibles that Parker's critics site as the reason he has fallen short at the top of the division.
Also, the big players in the weight class – Whyte, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin – all have one-punch knockout power. When it comes to athleticism and power, Parker falls short when compared to his competitors for the heavyweight crown.
Even James Toney – one of the best defensive fighters of his generation, a slick practitioner of the Philly Shell defence – had multiple losses in the heavyweight division.
My colleague Chris Rattue summed up this side of the argument nicely in his column last week: "After the latest sorry showing in what turned into a thriller against Dillian Whyte, the big-picture verdict is that Parker isn't a good enough boxer to make up for his lack of mongrel in the heavyweight division."
Yes: He's one of the smartest fighters in heavyweight boxing
Parker, affectionately called Gentleman Joe by some of his fans, is known as the nice guy of the heavyweight division. But he doesn't get enough credit for also being one of the smartest – both inside and outside the ring. What Parker is not, is what you might call an 'entertaining' fighter.
He's not the type to run out swinging haymakers, the type of fighter that casual fight fans want to see. Parker is a technician, a thinking man's boxer, who has gotten to where he is by largely using brain over brawn.
But Parker's biggest mistake in the fight against Whyte may have been letting the critics and armchair pundits get to him. During the pre-fight chatter, Parker said he will bring more "mongrel" to the Whyte fight. And he certainly showed a more aggressive version of Joseph Parker on fight night, which ultimately may have led to his downfall.
Fellow Kiwi combat sports nice guy Dan Hooker shared his thoughts on the bout, saying Parker should've ignored the pundits and stuck to what he does best.
"I feel like he could've gone out there and did what he did to Hughie Fury, you know, stay on the outside of Dillian Whyte and kind of pick him apart for 12 rounds and secure a decision victory," the 14th ranked UFC lightweight told Radio Sport.
"But after the last fight, after the Joshua fight, people were telling him, 'be more aggressive, be more aggressive' so he did what everyone wanted him to do. He went out there, he was more aggressive, he got in Dillian Whyte's face and he paid the price for that."
No: Could Parker be too smart?
Sport's richest athlete Floyd Mayweather Jr – who turned boxing's sweet science into an even sweeter money making machine – has set the template for the modern boxer. (When it comes to the sport of boxing, certainly not as a human being.) His business sense and ability to avoid punishment and stay healthy throughout his career has created a new generation of boxer – financially focussed fighters during the age of concussion and brain injury hyper-awareness.
Parker's business savvy, his talk outside of the ring, his fashion sense, all point toward a fighter who has a good understanding of the fight game – boxing as business, as well as sport.
This has helped him earn an estimated $8 million in his loss to Anthony Joshua in April, and is due to receive another large payday again for the Whyte bout.
His health and his ability to provide for his family will be top of mind for Parker, who learnt during the lead up to his fight against Anthony Joshua that his brother John (who is also a boxer) had developed a potentially fatal brain condition. He is also a father to two daughters.
The 26-year-old Parker is still young and determined to chase his dream of becoming the unified heavyweight champion, but said he will probably call it quits after 30.
"I've got a goal and I stand by that," Parker said after the Whyte fight. "It would be great to be a two-time world champion or a unified champion. At 30 or 31 I'm out but for now I'll go hard and give it everything I had."
Whether he can get back to the top is the biggest question.