Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy has vowed to bounce back in style following Saturday night’s decision defeat to Blackpool’s Matty Askin, who will now face Craig Kennedy for the vacant cruiserweight belt following his final eliminator triumph.

Floored twice in the fourth—his first knockdowns as a professional—the 26-year-old fought his way back into the contest only to lose by margins of 116-111, 116-111 and 117-110 (from John Keane, Victor Loughlin and Phil Edwards respectively) to fall to 9-1 (5 KOs).

The fight took place at the Victoria Warehouse, Manchester on a VIP Promotions show, and the McCarthy camp felt that Askin was allowed to hold and negate by referee Terry O’Connor. McCarthy, though, has accepted the loss and wants to use it to his advantage going forward.

“I knew going into the fight how negative Matty boxes but I thought he might have been a bit more proactive early on,” stated McCarthy when speaking to the Belfast Telegraph.

“I felt comfortable but then got caught and after that I was having to force the fight. It’s tough to take, when he put me down I was in shock and the second one was a really heavy knockdown—I felt my head was alright but my legs weren’t.

“It’s a big blow but I will learn from it. David Haye, one of my favourite fighters, got knocked out early in his career in a fight he was expected to win against Carl Thompson and came back to win World titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight titles. He had to learn and I’ll do the same.”

Pat Magee, his manager, believes that his man’s form dipped in his biggest fight to date. He said: “Overall we know that Tommy is much better than that, it was a disappointing performance.

“He’s a natural counter-puncher and once he had been dropped in the fourth Tommy was having to chase the fight and at a times throwing some wild shots to try and turn the fight around. It puts all our plans up in the air. I had hoped to be talking with Kennedy’s people about when and where we could do the fight but that is now out of the window.”

Askins moves to 21-3-1 (19 early) and on to a British title shot against his Welsh co-challenger.