Terry Flanagan loses to Maurice Hooker in fight for vacant WBO super-lightweight title
Britain's Terry Flanagan missed the chance to win a world title at a second weight as American Maurice Hooker secured the WBO super-lightweight title in a brutal affair at Manchester Arena.
Flanagan, who gave up the WBO title at lightweight to move up a division, was badly cut twice in round seven.
Hooker grew into the contest, landing as the home favourite dived in late on.
It was enough to secure his first world title with a split decision on the cards - 117-111, 115-113, 111-117.
The Texas fighter slumped to the canvas when the scores were announced, having taken the vacant title in his opponent's home city and inflicted a first defeat in 34 fights on the Mancunian.
He used his reach advantage early on to stave off Flanagan's dogged enthusiasm, before finding poise when his opponent was cut.
Flanagan was cut above his right eye and in the middle of his forehead as a result of head collisions.
Despite that he landed a stinging left hook in the eighth as both men refused to relent in a feverish battle.
It felt close, and those ringside could see Flanagan gritting his teeth as he loaded shots in desperation.
Hooker, to his credit, looked like a man who had never lost in the way he stood up to pressure, often landing hooks when Flanagan missed.
The champion took a heavy right in the 11th, leaving an increasingly fatigued Flanagan slumped on his chest as they lay on the ropes.
It was absorbing action, and noise levels peaked when Flanagan started quickly in the 12th, a barrage of hooks prompting Hooker to keep his guard high and take the punishment.
His reward came after the bell as he emulated compatriots Errol Spence Jr and Caleb Truax by winning a world-title fight in the United Kingdom in the past 18 months.