By Duncan Johnstone
A belt around his ear and a new belt around his waist were Joseph Parker's rewards from a mixed night in Germany for New Zealand's top professional boxer.
Parker was left with a perforated left eardrum after dropping his guard in the sixth round against Brazil's Marcelo Nascimento in Oberhausen.
He survived a torrid round to regain his composure and, under pressure, finished Nascimento in the next round with an impressive flurry that saw Australian referee Brad Vocale step in and stop the fight for a TKO result.
That earned Parker the WBA's Pan-Asia belt and a top 15 ranking.
His backers Duco Events are expected to announce in the coming days the next step in a busy schedule that should see him fight three more times this year, two of them in New Zealand with a July date looming.
A fresh cut above the left eye that he so badly damaged in his last win in October isn't going to affect that programme. The "nick" had nothing to do with the old wound and they don't believe Parker has a problem as "a bleeder".
"I really don't believe it's going to be a problem moving forward," said Parker's trainer Kevin Barry said.
But there were lessons to be learned from Oberhausen where Parker was showcasing his skills on the undercard to Wladimir Klitschko's world title demolition of Samoan-born Australian Alex Leapai.
Barry felt they had fallen short of making the statement they were after, but it wasn't a lost opportunity.
"We set very, very high standards. We have from day one and I don't think we reached the standards that we were looking to reach," Barry admitted.
"I think he was really trying too hard to make a big statement."
Eight consecutive wins - seven by knockouts - continue to push Parker's claims and his backers want to keep pushing him.
Parker, struggling for hearing, didn't back away from his mistakes later as he reviewed his performance.
"I've got to keep my eye on my opponent and not look away. I saw his right hand coming and I turned away but I didn't put my right hand up and he got me [in the ear]," the 22-year-old said of the rookie sixth round error that could have been calamitous.
But he said he never felt in danger and Nascimento's attack motivated him to get his own aggression back. Tags: Joseph Parker