Eddie Hearn has seen many of Derek Chisora’s grittiest performances from a front-row seat.

Even Hearn marveled, however, at the veteran heavyweight’s remarkable resilience Saturday night. Like virtually everyone else who watched Chisora’s immediate rematch with Joseph Parker, Hearn expected Parker to knock him out either in the third round, when Chisora appeared out on his feet, or numerous times thereafter when Chisora could barely stand up straight at AO Arena in Manchester, England.

The courageous Chisora fought through extreme fatigue, took the former WBO champion’s most punishing punches and fired back enough times in spurts to make Parker reluctant to engage at points in a fight that surprisingly went the distance. Parker scored three knockdowns – one apiece in the fourth, seventh and eighth rounds – but Chisora huffed and puffed and fought his way to the final bell.

All three judges gave Chisora credit for his resolve throughout their 12-round encounter. Michael Alexander credited Parker for just a two-point win (114-112), whereas Ingo Barrabas (115-111) and Giustino Di Giovanni (115-110) had him ahead by bigger margins when the final bell sounded. Their first fight, a 12-rounder Parker won by split decision May 1 at AO Arena, was closely contested, too, but their rematch was a much more fan-friendly battle.

“It was a brilliant fight and, you know, firstly, congratulations to Joseph Parker,” Hearn said during his post-fight interview with DAZN. “He needed to box as well as he did tonight to win that fight because Dererck Chisora is, he’s not human. I mean, how that fight went 12 rounds, I’ll never know. And it was just a – he deserves so much credit. And it was a massive win for Joseph Parker. He needed to box as well as he did tonight to beat Dereck Chisora because there was zero quit in him – zero quit. And, you know, this is the toughest sport in the world. And both those guys deserve a huge amount of credit.”

Hearn considers Parker’s performance worthy of thrusting him back into the heavyweight championship picture.

The 29-year-old New Zealander has won six straight fights since he suffered back-to-back 12-round, unanimous-decision defeats to former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) and Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) in 2018. Parker lost the WBO belt to Joshua in their title unification fight, which took place in March 2018 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

The 37-year-old Chisora (32-12, 23 KOs) has lost three straight bouts, including a 12-round unanimous decision to new champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) before his two losses to Parker, but Hearn expects the London-based, Zimbabwe-born contender to continue fighting.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.