Thomas Essomba’s reign as Commonwealth champion is over and there were no complaints from the Wearside camp.
Making the maiden defence of his flyweight title, the Sunderland boxer was beaten on a unanimous points decision by undefeated Welshman Jay Harris at the York Hall in London last night.
All three judges gave it to the 26-year-old from Swansea, Bob Williams scoring it a lopsided 117-112, John Keane 116-113 and Jeff Hinds 115-114.
This battle of the eight-stone pocket battleships had the makings of a belter between two fighters who don’t know the meaning of a backward step.
But it proved to be a gripping 12 rounds rather than an explosive contest at the iconic East End venue.
Essomba’s manager, Phil Jeffries, believed the judges got the verdict right, though he had it closer.
“I have no quarrels with the result,” said the Wearside fight figure.
“I had Harris two, maybe three, rounds up.
“I thought Thomas was a bit lazy in the middle rounds.
“When he caught him a couple of times, Thomas should have been jumping all over him but he was stepping off.
“It was a good fight - I had people back home texting me that we were robbed, we weren’t robbed.”
Harris arrived with the reputation of a brutal puncher, having stopped his last six victims, but, given his finishing power, he had never been past four rounds.
Essomba, who went into the bout with seven wins from eight contests, had been confident of possessing the experience, expertise and endurance.
The champion did the better work in the first, connecting with some accurate rights to the head, but Harris got his jab working in the second and produced the slicker work over the next four rounds.
Harris was now in uncharted territory and Essomba began to prowl forward, forcing the challenger back.
Essomba looked firmly back in contention, but he needed to keep his foot on the pedal.
However, Harris seemed to get his second wind and the ninth and 10th sessions both went his way.
To the credit of Essomba, he stormed forward in the last two rounds, but, for all his pressing, he could not trouble his rival.