Anth Hardy confirmed himself a “championship” fighter even if he returned home without the English light-welterweight title.
The Hartlepool and Horden boxer lost out on his challenge for the vacant national belt at Bath Pavillion on Saturday night, when favourite Joe Hughes clinched victory after 10 enthralling rounds.
I think the wild difference in the scores is more down to how each individual scores a fightPETER COPE
Sadly, the manner of the defeat, a split decision, raised a few eyebrows to say the very least.
One judge scored it to Hardy 97-95, with the other two awarding it to Hughes 98-92!
But while Hardy lost the battle, he has not lost the war.
Gus Robinson Developments coach, Peter Cope, believes Saturday’s performance will be a career-changer for the 23-year-old, from Horden.
“The decision might not have gone our way, but Anth has proved he’s a championship-level boxer,” Cope told SportMail.
“To come away from home, against a top-rated kid, who’d been winning titles in 10 rounders, and perform like that was absolutely fantastic.
“He has shown what he can do and there is so much to build on.”
Hardy produced a superb display of boxing in his first 10-round contest, and was perhaps unlucky to miss out.
It was a night of frustration and pride for his corner of Cope and Alan Temple.
“Anth was brilliant,” said Cope. “I couldn’t have asked any more from him.
“The scores look daft and I am not going to say we were robbed or claim it was a hometown decision or anything like that.
“I think the wild difference in the scores is more down to how each individual scores a fight.
“Do you go with the all-out aggression or do you judge it on pure boxing?
“On pure boxing skill and movement, Anth was first class.
“Our Peter was here [Peter Cope Jnr] and he said afterwards ‘how can you give a decision to someone when he’s not landing?’ but it’s all interpretation.
“Hughes is a good kid, he comes forward, he’s aggressive, but Anth’s boxing was superb.
“It really comes down to what you see in a round, what I would say is that had we won it I wouldn’t have been surprised.
“Near the end, Alan turned to me and said ‘this is going to be close’ and when the MC said ‘we have a split decision’ I wondered if we could get it.
“Sadly, we couldn’t but I’m so proud of Anth, we all are. He did well in training and followed the game-plan to the letter. On another day, we might have got it.”