Coach Neil Fannan blasted referee Victor Loughlin after seeing Martin Ward’s British championship challenge end in a bloody defeat.
Ward pushed champion James “Jazza” Dickens every inch of the way in his challenge for the Liverpool star’s super-bantamweight crown at the Rainton Meadows Arena.
I thought the referee spoiled the fightNEIL FANNAN
But Dickens held onto the famous Lonsdale Belt via a split decision.
One judge, Dave Parris, scored it to Ward 116-12 but the other two ringside judges marked it for Dickens – Howard Foster 115-114 and Phil Edwards 16-13.
Fannan had no gripe about the scoring, his anger was directed at referee Loughlin.
Ward suffered FOUR cuts which Fannan insisted came from the head of Dickens.
The 27-year-old was still being stitched up by the doctor when this reporter left the Rainton Meadows Arena after midnight.
Two cuts to his right eye, one to his left and one to the top of his head had totalled 30 stitches and counting.
“I thought the referee spoiled the fight, I really did,” said the Hartlepool coach.
“Jazza was throwing his shots and then rolling in low with his head.
“Martin got four cuts and every one was caused by the head.
“One of the fans said afterwards to me ‘if Dickens had a point or two taken off, Martin would have won.
“But I didn’t want to win like that, I just wanted the referee to do his job.
“If you are cutting someone with your head, you are just going to keep doing it, aren’t you if the referee is not going to tell you.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the ref. I don’t usually moan about referees but I think he cost Martin the fight.
“It was an unreal fight, really close.”
Ward started and finished superbly in front of a packed crowd at the Houghton venue last night.
His razor-sharp jab won him the first and sheer guts and determination the last two rounds, but in between, Dickens showed why he was the champion.
The fact that the scorecards of the judges varied so markedly should not be a surprise.
Many rounds were too close to call and it was left to the judge’s individual interpretation of the sessions.
Dickens insisted the cuts were caused by accidental head clashes and paid tribute to his old friend and rival.
“Poor Martin got a lot of cuts but they weren’t meant to happen,” he said.
“The heads go in as they sometimes do.
“I’m happy to come into the lion’s den and win – I love fighting in the North-East, it’s a great place to box and I hope I won a few new fans.”
Dickens, who suffered heavy damage to his own eyes, has sights set on a British and European unification fight with Euro champ Gavin McDonnell but does not rule out a re-match.
“I could see myself fighting Martin again further down the line – he’s a cracking lad, I like him and he has a great family and team,” said the 24-year-old.
“I don’t want to lose my title but if there’s anyone I would want to see be British champion, it’s Martin.”