A truism of big-time modern-day boxing is that top-level boxers tend to meet after a long run of fights and with their ‘0’ intact—or sometimes, frustratingly, after losing it at a key point—with a lot of filler throw in during the interim until they collide.

Sometimes, though, the less favoured fighters—the ones who did not bring as much fanfare over to the pro ranks with them—meet earlier in their careers when both men have only their ‘0’ to lose and a route into contention to gain.

That was the case in Harrow tonight as the city’s Jez Smith (149lbs)—the brother of Mitchell, who appears later—and Manchester’s Macaulay McGowan (also 149lbs) both put their undefeated slates on the line over eight three-minute rounds—and without a single Interwotsit trinket in sight.

Dropped and hurt in round two, McGowan, who had only a single KO win on his slate going in, roared back. The 21-year-old’s work rate appearing a key factor as the rounds ticked by.

Bloodied below his nose by the seventh, the visiting fighter still had meat on his shots. Smith kept flicking out punches, but the 22-year-old looked weary by this point and, ominously, had yet to register a stoppage going in.

Unsurprisingly, they made it through to the final bell, with referee Jeff Hinds scoring it 76-76. There was disappointment on both sides yet both men will be wiser and better after eight keenly contested rounds, whatever they think of the result. Smith is now 7-0-1, no KOs, and McGowan is also in stasis after adding a statement to his slate to move to 10-0-1 (1).

“I had it 5-3 for McGowan, but with one point because of the knockdown, some rounds were so close,” said Steve Lillis of BoxNation when summing up the fight. “It could have gone either way. No argument with the draw there. We need to see more of these fights because they’ll both learn from that.”

“I thought I did enough to win, but, at the end of the day the referee scored it a draw so it is up to him,” said Smith.

“I got knocked down then brought it back,” stated McGowan. “He had the crowd cheering for him, so that could sway the ref, but we can do it again.”

“Let’s go to Manchester for the rematch,” added Smith. “I’m used to only doing four rounders, so I had to dig deep in those later rounds at times as he was coming on strongly.”

“I am a fighter and I will fight to the end,” said McGowan.