Former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker got back to winning ways but was made to work as he claimed a ten-round decision over Jack Massey in the Manchester arena where he was stopped by Joe Joyce in his previous fight.

The fight was a big step up for Massey, who had boxed previously as a cruiserweight, where he had held an IBO title, but he managed to frustrate Parker without ever really threatening to beat him on the Eubank-Smith undercard.

It was a unanimous decision - Victor Loughlin scored it 97-92, Howard Foster went 97-93, while Phil Edwards had it 96-93, which seemed a bit close.

Parker, 31, who is now based as part of Tyson Fury’s camp in Morecambe, where he is trained by Andy Lee, seemed content with the night's work.

“We knew Jack Massey was going to come prepared and ready and he put on a good performance,” Parker said. “He was moving a lot, which made it a bit difficult, but if he came forward it would have been a different fight, but congratulations to Jack for taking me the ten rounds.”

Massey was cautious at the opening bell, backing away and looking to hold and smother Parker. Midway through the first, Massey landed a decent right, although Parker countered with a left, but in the main Parker was following Massey around.

It was the same pattern in the second and third, when Parker landed a good right hook up close as Massey backed into the ropes. He repeated the trick in the fourth, although there were signs that Massey was being a bit more active.

There were signs in the fifth round that the weight of Parker’s punches were taking their toll, as two hard rights had an impact, although Massey finished the round with a good flurry and landed a decent right at the start of the sixth. Parker hammered back with a big uppercut, but Massey still looked to attack and was not letting Parker have his own way.

There were signs of frustration from Parker in the seventh and eighth rounds and the action was scrappy. Massey was getting on top in the eighth round, as he peppered Parker with shots, landing a decent right hand. But Massey was then docked a point for persistent holding by referee Darren Sarjinson and Parker landed a good right on the bell.

In the final round, Massey suffered a nasty cut over his left eye and he was then rocked by a right uppercut, but he held on. Massey had one final go in the final ten seconds of the round, but he lacked the power to really trouble Parker.

Lee said there were still improvements to come from Parker. “More of everything,” Lee said. “Pick up on everything - feet, head, sharper with everything. I think he is just beginning again, it’s a rebuilding process and the ten rounds will do him good.

“It is very difficult to look good against someone who is being so negative, they are the hardest opponents to look good against.”

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.