Glenn Foot felt like he was robbed of a decision as his quest to become IBF European super-lightweight champion was derailed on Saturday night.
The Sunderland fighter was controversially outpointed by Guisborough’s Josh Leather at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, as chief support to Liam Smith’s win over Liam Williams.
In an entertaining encounter, contender for fight of the night, Foot dominated the opening exchanges, dropping the titlist in the second round with a shattering right.
Foot then piled on the pressure, going toe-to-toe with the younger man, forcing him into the kind of fight he wanted.
But the tide turned in the sixth when Foot was deducted a point for hitting after the break.
That seemed to give the champion a second wind, although a lot of the meaningful stuff was landed by Foot and the flashier combinations coming from Leather.
In the 10th Foot’s knockdown of Leather was ruled out when he was deducted another point for repeatedly losing his gumshield.
Leather looked to shade the final rounds and that seemed to carry favour with the judges who scored it 114-111, 113-112, 115-110 in favour of Leather.
"I gave it everything. I honestly thought I had won it," said Foot.
"I know that I won the first nine rounds."
Foot added: "He was rubbish. He has got no power.
"He was flinging all of these flashy shots but there was no power there. I know I was hurting him."
On the same bill West Rainton’s Tommy Ward made light work of his first British title defence, comfortably out-pointing Birmingham’s Sean Davis.
Ward dominated his challenger from first bell to last. His speed, elusiveness and swiftness on the counter ultimately proving the difference.
A cut suffered just above the right eye in the sixth round slowed Ward’s progress somewhat but did little to sway the judges.
They scored the contest 117-112, 118-111, 118-111 in favour of Ward as he retained his super-bantamweight title in emphatic fashion.
And after the bout he admits the fight was just what the doctor ordered, as he prepares for his career to step up from domestic to European and World level.
"It was a hard 12 rounds – the first of my career," said Ward, who had 15 stitches in two cuts above his right and left eye after the bout.
"Maybe I fought a couple of times when I should have been boxing but it was a learning fight for me.
"He was a tough, hard kid who never stopped coming forward. At the end of the day my boxing skills were superior – skills pay the bills.
“It is a lesson learned, a good win and we move on.”