Ray Moylette suffered an agonising defeat against Christian Uruzquieta in a thrilling contest at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on Friday night.
In front of a passionate crowd, Moylette was beaten on a split decision as two knockdowns in the fifth round proved the difference against the equally tough and exciting Uruzquieta.
It took remarkable bravery by the home fighter to get off the canvas twice, particularly as he had to survive over two minutes of unyielding shots from his opponent while struggling to stay on his feet.
The three judges had contrasting views when the final bell rung, with two scoring each fighter one-point winners, and the final one declaring it 96-92 to Uruzquieta as the WBC International Silver Lightweight title went back to Mexico.
After a lengthy undercard that saw the main event pushed out until 11:15pm, the former Irish amateur boxer was led to the ring with a marching band and the roar of a packed house in Mayo.
The first round set the tone for the fight as both men landed clean shots with Uruzquieta in particular catching the eye with his left hooks and work to the body.
Moylette let his jab do the work in the second to find some rhythm, which forced the Mexican to turn the aggressor and he then tried to claim the round, albeit the Mayo man landed well right on the bell.
Conditioning was clearly going to be a factor as Moylette expended plenty of energy in moving swiftly out of the corner to find space to land cleanly, all the time while trying to protect himself from the body shots that were a constant part of the visiting man’s arsenal.
Uruzquieta presented a swollen eye at the end of the third round but the warning signs were there in the next as Moylette had a breather, or possibly tired, and the European amateur gold medalist took a number of hard shots to the ribs.
It was early in the fifth when Moylette first hit the canvas from a powerful hook and he just about made the count from the referee for the fight to continue.
After trying to hold, he was again floored and it looked all over. But somehow he survived despite Uruzquieta throwing punch and punch and he even looked in danger of expending too much energy in a bid to get the knockout.
After a slow start to the next, Moylette found a new lease of life and began to take over the fight, much to the delight of the crowd who cranked up the noise level considerably.
Known as “Suger Ray”, it began to become clear why as Moylette demonstrated great feet, movement and shot selection as he reeled off several scoring punches to take the sixth round and then the next in a similar fashion.
The eighth was a much more even affair, arguably going to 28-year-old from Islandeady, but a strong finish from the Mexican saw him showboat his way through the closing stages of the penultimate three minutes and again Moylette looked exhausted as the fight came to a close in the next.
The judges were conflicted but the 96-92 score was telling and while it was probably harsh on Moylette, the 10-7 score in the fifth round was undoubtedly key on a night that ended in disappointment but wowed the spectators and television viewers with its drama.