Brampton boxer Josh Wale was an agonising one point away from achieving his lifetime goal on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old could not have come any closer to winning the British title at Leeds First Direct Arena. Wale's tussle with Doncaster's unbeaten Gavin McDonnell for the super-bantamweight belt went the whole 12 rounds and to a split decision draw.
It was heartbreaking outcome for Wale, who put in the fight of his life. A rematch is planned at the same venue later this year and Josh is vowing to get the job done if the pair meet for a third time.
"Next time I will do it by knockout so there is no doubt whatsoever," he said. "I will one day be British champion. I should have been after Wednesday but I won't ever give up."
The scorecards differed with Scottish judge Victor Loughlin giving it to Wale 115-114. Phil Edwards had it by the same margin to McDonnell while Ian John-Lewis went for a draw meaning McDonnell retained the title as the current holder.
Josh's dad and trainer Mick Wale believes McDonnell will be forced into giving son another crack at the title. Mick said: "After that there are big question marks over Gavin and he will want to answer them. I suppose it was a moral victory for us but you can't wear one of those around your waist.
"The problem Gavin has is that Josh showed tremendous improvement in that fight from the first one.
"Just imagine how much better he's going to be next time. Josh is two years younger than Gavin and I still don't think he has reached his peak yet. Next time we'll just have to put it beyond the judges."
Josh's manager Carl Greaves has been verbally promised a rematch by head of Sky boxing Adam Smith. Josh added: "Gavin will get sick of people saying 'Josh won that fight' so he will take it again. He's a fighter and we're proud people."
The ringside pundits saw it the way of Wale as did a former foe Kid Galahad who beat Wale in 2012. Galahad was ringside watching the fight for the title that he vacated before going on to win the European and Commonwealth crowns at super-bantamweight.
"I had it Josh by two," admitted the hot Sheffield prospect. "I, more than most people, know Josh is as hard as nails and that he has a heart of a lion. It could have gone either way but Josh was the most aggressive. He was the stronger and I think he wanted it more. Josh most definitely deserves to be British champion. He showed on the night that he is more than capable of winning titles at this level and I think European level too."
Sky pundits Glenn McCrory and Jim Watt, both former world champions, claimed during the broadcast that they thought Wale had thoroughly deserved to win the Lord Lonsdale belt despite the closeness of the contest. McDonnell said: "I personally thought I nicked a close fight. I will gladly give Josh another rematch as he deserves it."