Paul McCloskey's hopes of a second crack at a world title were dealt a huge blow when he lost to former WBO champion DeMarcus Corley on Saturday.
Referee Ian John-Lewis called a halt to the contest during round 10 as a bloodied McCloskey wobbled after being caught by a solid right-hand punch.
Corley, the WBO light-welterweight belt holder between 2001 and 2003, had made a good start to the Belfast fight.
But McCloskey had seemed set for the expected win after a strong comeback.
Dungiven man McCloskey sustained a nose injury in the second round as Corley, 38 in June, did damage with strong rights.
However, from the seventh round onwards, McCloskey appeared to be clawing his way back, as he had done in previous contests.
But it all ended in the final minute of the 10th leaving a stunned McCloskey at a loss to explain the surprise defeat.
"I was pretty flat. I will have to try to figure out what went wrong," said McCloskey.
"He is a quality fighter in the last-chance saloon and you have to give him credit.
"I am gutted - it is a big blow to me. I felt I could have fought on."