Peter Cope is a boxer who has proven he can take the knocks and come back fighting.
And he’s going to have to do that again after suffering his third title set-back inside the last13 months.
Cope was out-boxed and out-fought yesterday in his Northern Area title re-match with John Green after the Middlesbrough fighter avenged defeat in South Shields last October for the then vacant regional lightweight belt.
The Hartlepool boxer had hoped to not only repeat that success from Temple Park but improve on his performance and beat Green more decisively.
Unfortunately, it was Green who was the man to improve, the 26-year-old tearing up the script in emphatic fashion.
The Boro fighter won 98-94 on the scorecard of referee Andrew Wright and he was a worthy winner.
It was Green who ‘did a Copey’, producing an action-packed display with the Gus Robinson Developments southpaw looking a pale shadow of his normal self.
Can Cope come back?
Of course. He has done it before and can do so again.
Last July, he lost to the very gifted Londoner Mitchell Smith at the York Hall in a challenge for the vacant English super-featherweight crown, but bounced back in the October with that win over Green.
Cope returned to super-feather in March when he met Andy Townend in an English eliminator, only to be outgunned by the hard-hitting Tyke in Doncaster.
However, he responded in thrilling fashion, with an exciting display at the Borough Hall in May, when he beat a decent opponent in Lee Connelly over six rounds.
Yesterday though, Cope looked a different fighter. Coach – and dad – Peter was as shocked as anyone by the transformation and wondered if it was just, as he put it, a “bad day at the office”, with Green upping his game on a day when Peter Jnr saw his level drop.
Unless you are Rocky Marciano, or Joe Calzaghe, or Floyd Mayweather, a boxer is going to lose somewhere along the line. Very few are unbeatable.
It was the manner in which Cope lost which was puzzling – there was no shortage of effort but there was a frightening absence of the razor-sharp, accurate punching and movement which characterised his display at the Borough Hall and, before that, the opening salvos in the brief war in Doncaster with Townend.
Green was first out of the traps at the Stadium of Light, landing two short rights to the head of the champion and some good lefts too in a positive opener.
That continued in the second round when there was an even better repertoire of punches and while Cope got through with an early right-left combination in both the third and fourth sessions, he could not sustain it. Cope again tried to force it in the fifth but struggled to find his rhythm and by half-way, it was already looking a tall order.
To Cope’s credit, heart was not an issue and in the sixth there was a rare sight of the jab, often such a potent weapon and some strong lefts as he took the fight to Green.
But he could not build on this in the seventh or eighth as Green landed the more telling shots.
By that stage, Cope was looking like needing a stoppage to retain his belt. The ninth and 10th rounds saw him do some of his best work of the contest, getting through with a series of good right-left combinations and some eye-catching lefts to Green’s head.
It meant, on this reporter’s unofficial scorecard anyway, that the gap had narrowed. I marked it 97-95 to Green, but the only scoreline that mattered was Mr Wright’s and he saw it 98-94.
Cope has come back before and hopefully he will do so again.