A bruised and battered Joseph Parker has insisted nothing changes – he wants to keep boxing and will do so for another four or five years despite his defeat to Dillian Whyte which will force him to dig deep in much less lucrative paydays for the immediate future.
His face told the story after he was knocked down twice, the first time with what appeared to be a headbutt but not treated as such, and the second time by a short left hook. "The punch you don't see is the punch that gets you. It was a surprise," he said. Parker had a darkening left eye and a sore right ear. He also had a sore right shoulder.
The unanimous points decision after 12 rounds came as he put Whyte down but it wasn't enough, but he was satisfied with the attacking nature of his performance, even if he wore more punches than in any other fight of his career. The former WBO world heavyweight champion is also sticking with trainer Kevin Barry and promoter David Higgins as they plan a potentially difficult way back to the top.
"I've got a goal and I stand by that," Parker, 26, said. "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.
Asked about Barry, with whom he lives in Las Vegas, Parker said: "Our partnership is really strong. This is a fight I've taken on the chin. If I executed the plan it would have been different. I'm sticking with the team I have."
Barry said: "I'm a little insulted to be asked that question. I can't get in the ring and throw the punches for Joe. I give everything I have for this man. I love this man. My mission is to make him as good as he can be. I'm totally dedicated and devoted to Joe. We don't just train in the gym for one hour a day. We spend the whole day together every day."
Emotions will be running high after this loss, coming as it did after the defeat to Anthony Joshua in April. It was a crowd-pleaser which came at the end of an entertaining card but questions will be asked about whether Parker has the hardness and drive to win against the odds.
Whyte, knocked down by a straight right from Parker in the 12th round, appeared hungrier than the New Zealander. Before this fight he was considered to be a second-tier heavyweight. Certainly he was meaner than Parker.
A re-match is a possibility according to Higgins, and Parker said he would like one, but Whyte's promoter Eddie Hearn was less enthusiastic, saying it wouldn't be at the top of his list. Whyte will probably face an easier opponent before possibly having a re-match against Joshua at Wembley in April.
"Finding the right comeback opportunity won't be hard," Higgins said. "I've soaked up the response from the public. I sat sandwiched between Eddie and Barry Hearn so I've been privy to their views which I won't share now.
"He's a human being, it's his body so I'm not going to bother him with that stuff," Higgins said of Parker. "He can go home and meet his new-born baby daughter and have a rest and then we'll analyse the options. But the good news is there are a range of solid options."
The crowd of 18,000 applauded both men afterwards. Parker won plaudits for the way he fought back and also his graciousness in defeat. A win was supposed to catapult him back to the top three in the world. Now he will be seen as a far less intimidating force.
"We had a great game plan but I felt I didn't follow the plan that Kev put in place," Parker said. "There were a few mistakes. I feel when you have a fighter who was hungry and had a will to win, it can be quite difficult to execute that plan so I take full responsibility."
Asked if he thought he might have won had there been another round, he said: "Anything could have happened but I was given 12 rounds to do what I had to do and obviously it didn't work out. There are no complaints here I just have to take it on the chin and hopefully come back here again some time."