Joseph Parker returns with explosive knockout win over Shawndell Winters

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Joseph Parker announced his return to the heavyweight scene in devastating fashion, powering to a fifth round stoppage over Shawndell Winters.

The former WBO champion - who lost his title to Anthony Joshua in 2018 - was making his first appearance in the ring in eight months, but looked sharp from the first minute. 

Facing American fighter Winters in the Ford Centre in Texas, Parker troubled his opponent early on with a lightning-quick jab, before catching him with a heavy left hook towards the end of the round. 

Maintaining his dominance throughout most of the second, Parker again caught Winters with a heavy right at the end of the second - threatening to bring the fight to an early end.

Winters, however, showed commendable spirit to take the fight to Parker once again early in the third, but was left sprawling on the canvas following a thunderous right hand from Parker in the closing seconds of the round. 

Despite his increasingly powerful and assured performance throughout, there were some concerns for Parker after the New Zealand-born fighter suffered a small cut in the fourth, but Winters was unable to capitalise on the brief respite.

Normal service was resumed in the fifth however, and Parker left the on-watching crowd purring after a beautiful right counter left Winters on wooden legs, before a brutal barrage of punches sent the 39-year-old tumbling. 

Winters showed admirable heart to beat the count and return to his feet once more, but the ref was left with no choice but to end the contest, as the American swayed in his corner. 

Parker, meanwhile, has once again laid his claim for another shot at a world title, offering fans a stunning reminder of the silky skills and lightning hand-speed that first saw him claim the WBO belt in 2016 - against another of Joshua's former opponents, Andy Ruiz Jr.

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Now ranked second in the WBO rankings, a mouth-watering fight against the enigmatic Oleksandr Usyk - who is currently top of the rankings - appears to offer the most straight forward route back to the top. 

A fight against Dereck Chisora has also been heavily linked, after the Kiwi was forced to pull out of their planned encounter this year, following a suspected spider bite.

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