Tasmanian boxer Daniel Geale lost a heart-breaking IBF middleweight title defence to Englishman ''Dazzling'' Darren Barker on a split points decision in the US yesterday.
Both fighters threw everything at each other in a tough 12-round fight in Atlantic City but it was Barker who upset the champion to claim the title.
Two of the three judges scored the fight 114-113 and 116-111 in his favour and the third gave it to Geale 114-113.
It was only the 32-year-old Launceston boxer's second professional defeat in 31 fights.
''I'm not going to whinge and cry and carry on,'' Geale said.
''The thing is it didn't go my way tonight, I'm very disappointed, don't get me wrong.
''I worked so hard for that, and put everything into that.
''I hurt him throughout the fight.''
Geale had his chances to win the fight dropping Barker in the sixth round with a heavy left-hand body punch that left the challenger writhing on the canvas in obvious pain.
Barker barely got back up on his feet before the mandatory count finished but somehow managed to fight off Geale's onslaught as he furiously tried to put the Englishman away.
It was a gutsy performance by Barker who right from the early rounds showed he was going to be a formidable opponent, taking the fight to Geale throughout and throwing more punches. Geale is renowned for being dominant over the closing rounds, but it was Barker who finished the stronger outworking him over the back end of the fight apart from the last round which Geale won.
The defeat is a demoralising blow for former Brooks High School student in his fifth title defence and his first fight in the lucrative US market.
Geale will have to now weigh up his future options following the defeat.
US promoter Gary Shaw admitted he was stunned that the resilient Barker, looking in tremendous pain, was able to beat referee Eddie Cotton's count and backed Geale to win another world crown.
''That was a vicious liver shot, I was really shocked that Barker survived it,'' Shaw said.
''We'll fight our way back and I'm sure Barker will give us the same opportunity as we gave him.''
Barker may have to make a mandatory defence first against German Felix Sturm.