Kieron Conway suffered the first defeat of his professional career as he bowed out of the Ultimate Boxxer competition in the semi-finals last Friday night.
Conway, who had won all of his 10 previous contests going into the competition, cruised through the quarter-final clash at The Indigo at The O2.
The bookies’ favourite was far too good for Kaan Hawes, easing to a unanimous decision success.
All three scores at ringside were called at 30-27 in Conway’s favour as the 23-year-old lived up to the hype.
Hawes was relentless throughout the nine minutes, as he looked determined not to waste his chance, but Conway’s shot selection proved far superior.
That gave him an impressive victory in front of the BT Sport cameras and he was in confident mood going into the semi-finals.
Lying in wait was Derrick Osaze, who had won all six of his pro fights prior to his quarter-final clash with former Southern Area titlist Tey Lynn-Jones.
Osaze, known as the Punching Preacher from Peckham, coasted through the last-eight clash, earning the victory via a unanimous decision.
But Conway was not fazed and he soon engaged in a nip and tuck semi-final with his opponent.
Osaze did his best to get on the front foot during the opening stages, but there was little between the two men.
Conway combatted his opponent well, using his reach to land some blows and keep the contest level.
But with either fighter deserving of a place in the final, it was Osaze who eventually prevailed on a split decision.
“The lure of the exposure along with a decent purse meant it was a reasonable risk to take,” said Conway’s trainer and father, James Conway.
“It obviously wasn’t what we wanted regarding the result of the tournament but in reality we never expected the format to suit, even though we believed he’d still be victorious.
“Although Kieron had a more than reasonable amateur career, he was always one that liked to check out his opponents before settling into a contest and for the past two years we had been settling him down preparing for titles over the longer distance of 10-12 rounds.
“Losing over three three-minute rounds as a pro is very little to worry about and just dents the pride.
“Boxing has been known to put silly pressure on fighters to keep their unbeaten record but that’s nonsense and boxers such as Anthony Crolla, who was full of praise for Kieron on Friday, are role models for just that.
“The interest that’s been shown in Kieron since Friday has proved that it wasn’t a bad decision to take a chance and big opportunities are being spoken of already.
“It was also mentioned by the BT and Ultimate Boxxer staff that the 140 travelling fans from Northampton were outstanding, singing throughout, well mannered and well behaved.
“Shoe Army was a particularly popular song on the evening, which was well received by staff working at the event.
“Kieron would like to send out a massive thank you to all the traveling fans and all those that couldn’t make it but supported the Northampton man from their homes.
“And a special thanks goes to his sponsors S&D Paving, Lattimer Fire Protection, Ace of Fadez Barbers, Jimmys Sports Bar and Pound 4 Pound Boxing.”
Osaze went on to win the competition, and a sizeable prize pot, as he got the better of Grant Dennis in a frantic final.
Conway is back in action on home soil next weekend, when he fights at The Deco on Saturday (May 25).