HEARTBREAK is probably not a strong enough word to describe the emotions in the Jonson McClumpha camp today.
The Sunderland star’s English title ambitions have been delayed, though not destroyed, by a cut eye which forced the premature end of his eliminator with Lewis Taylor.
McClumpha was forced out of the exciting middleweight confrontation at the halfway stage in Sheffield, suffering what was announced as a “technical result”.
It was anything but. Bloody unlucky would be a better description.
The end came not through anything technical, but because of a nasty cut above his eye which caused a heavy flow of claret down the middle of his face. It required five stitches.
McClumpha admitted after the stoppage at the start of round six that he’d struggled to see after the first session.
It was a cruel, if correct, end.
The 24-year-old had made a brilliant start at Hillsborough Leisure Centre, so good in fact that it was hard to see where the accidental clash of heads happened because Taylor had not got near him in the opening three minutes.
It was the fight of the night and with talk that Danny Butler is abdicating the English throne, the British Boxing Board of Control would surely be within their rights to order Taylor v McClumpha II for the vacant belt.
Defeat was heartbreaking, too, for manager Phil Jeffries, coach David Binns and assistant Nicola Douglas who, as cutswoman, did a magnificent job in the corner.
“I’d asked Jonson if he was all right and he said he was,” Binns told the Echo.
“It was only after the fight he said he couldn’t see, if I’d known that I’d have pulled him out.
“I was confident Jonson could beat Lewis and I still am.
“Don’t get me wrong, I thought Lewis boxed very well on the night.
“But while Lewis boxed well – and congratulations to him – I do believe the cut distracted Jonson off his course.
“There is a lot to build on and I truly believe he is English title level.
“Having watched it, I think a top-class Jonson McClumpha can beat him.
“The lad boxed brilliant, I’m not taking anything away from him.
“I’d be happy for Taylor to be his next opponent if Phil Jeffries can get it for his March show, I’m not sure Lewis’s people would take it, but I would.
“I think this is Jonson’s level, I don’t want him going back to four rounders.”
McClumpha began so positively, his jab never out of Taylor’s face, while there were also some good lefts to the body as well.
The early cut above his eye, ruled an accidental head clash by referee Michael Alexander, did not seem to affect the Jeffries-managed boxer.
Douglas stemmed the flow of blood between rounds and the second session was almost an action replay of the first as McClumpha jabbed superbly.
Taylor opened up late in the round, but the Wearsider stood and traded blow for blow and this reporter also scored those three minutes for the Wearsider.
After being beaten to the punch, Taylor began to land with his own jab and finished round three the better.
Taylor was firmly on top in the fourth, which ended with swelling under Jonson’s left eye.
The unbeaten Dronfield fighter worked well on the inside in the fifth, scoring with both fists, and while McClumpha connected with a left-right combination Taylor responded strongly.
McClumpha’s cut had worsened noticeably and had lost his early impetus.
When the ref brought the doctor to the ring apron, the medic indicated it should be stopped and, after consulting with Binns, it was waved off.
Given the bout had reached halfway, it went to the referee’s scorecard, the Yorkshire official marking it 49-46 to Taylor.
This reporter, plus Andy Whittle, from Boxing News, saw Lewis 48-47 up on our very unofficial cards.
“The tide had turned and I think Jonson would probably have had to stop him,” added Binns.
“Lewis had taken charge with his jab and now I know that was because Jonson could not see.”