Farnworth boxer Jack Flatley saw his challenge for the IBO international middleweight title ended prematurely after an accidental clash of heads with belt holder Nathan Heaney - and has called for a rematch.
Flatley stumbled head first into Heaney in the fifth round, leaving the Stoke fighter with a huge cut above his right eye that left the ringside doctor with an easy decision to make to halt the bout.
And, unfortunately for 27-year-old Flatley who had been improving as the bout wore on, the early scorecards saw all three judges have Heaney ahead on 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 to give him a technical-decision triumph.
Heaney had made a good start in finding his range early and landing a few shots on Flatley in the first two rounds.
But, fired up by his corner, Flatley looked to reverse the tide, trying to put Heaney on the back foot in round three.
A right hand over the top certainly caught Heaney and gave Bolton’s ‘Quiet Storm’ a much-needed confidence boost.
By the end of round four, Flatley had reversed the momentum of the contest entirely, bloodying Heaney’s nose with crisp, straight shots.
But the clash of heads put paid to any hopes of going on to win.
After the fight, former heavyweight champion David Haye accused Flatley of trying to deliberately sink his head into Heaney.
Haye said: “Flatley led with his head.
“He came in with his head, I can’t say he was trying to headbutt him but his body language was moving over his head over his front foot.
“He leads in, he jumps in with it, I don’t think he looked like he was trying to land a jab.
“That to me looked like he tried to headbutt him. Personally. That’s how it looked to me.”
Flatley rebuffed those accusations and tweeted: “Only right to run it again. You know there was no intention with the head and was only going one way.”
He also issued a statement on social media which said: “Woke up this morning feeling very deflated. Not one to be bitter but gutting the way it ended as I had it dead level and was getting into my flow and don’t have any doubts I’d have won that fight and title.
“I loved every minute of the night other than the result - one of my best nights in boxing, live on PPV in front of thousands of people not something I can complain about.
“Thanks to everyone for the support - my team Jim Bolton, Phil Robinson, Tom McNeil and my head coach Alex Matvienko who has had my back from being 19 years old and who I wouldn’t be on this stage or the man I am in my life now without - thank you coach.
“Respect to a respectful fighter in Nathan who I’m sure would have liked the fight to end the way it should - let’s get the rematch sorted.”