The Belfast man took on champion Martin J Ward at the Wembley Arena as part of the Chris Eubank v Arthur Abraham undercard, live on ITV Box Office, being edged out on a narrow unanimous decision.
A tactical bout, Cacace had good success throughout, however the activity of the reigning champ seemingly swayed the judges after twelve tense rounds.
Cacace moved into the British title frame in 2015 when he stopped Ronnie Clark to win the Celtic belt. The Andersonstown man seemed to have secured the mandatory position then last year, however a mix up with the British Board saw his chance delayed.
In this time Cacace was forced to sit by and see Ward claim the belt last September with a good win over Andy Townend before going life and death with the aforementioned Clark. The Matchroom fighter then defended the belt a second time in March against Maxi Hughes, setting up tonight’s fight as an opportunity to win the belt outright with a third successful defence.
The fight was given a bit of added spice then with the addition of the Commonwealth title. The rainbow belt was last held by Liam Walsh and was vacated when the Englishman stepped up to challenge IBF champion Gervonta Davis. The strap was put on the line for the Townend v John Kays scrap in May, but was pulled and added to this fight when the former missed weight.
A cagey and close opener saw Cacace, starting southpaw, land early with the biggest shot of the stanza, a long backhand left.
Ward began the stronger and busier in similarly cagey second. The big left of Cacace remained dangerous but the round was Ward’s.
A better third from the Irishman saw him catch Ward coming in with a short right before landing numerous times with the potent-looking long left.
The slow pace continued into the fourth, and Cacace was having good success pot-shotting before an especially big left in the closing exchanges.
Ward came back strong at the start of a scrappy fifth. Cacace switched orthodox and would hit Ward as he looked to referee Terry O’Connor before having further success down the stretch – with the pair squaring up at the round’s conclusion.
Cacace switch-hit throughout the sixth, another close and cagey round in which a cut opened up above the left eye of Ward from an accidental head clash.
Ward upped the pace as the fight entered its second half, seemingly finding his timing. Cacace then responded well with a very strong final minute.
The fight finally opened up in the eight with Cacace, who started the aggressor, beating the champion to the punch.
The action continued into the ninth with both trading, Cacace seemingly landing the meatier shots, with a left hook at the close being particularly jarring.
The busier Ward had good success in the tenth, and was coping well with the intermittent attacks of Cacace.
Entering the eleventh for the first time in his career, Cacace began aggressively. It was a scrappy albeit entertaining round though, with little landing completely clean.
Going into what seemed like may be a potentially defining final round, Cacace pushed the action and looked to have gotten the better of exchanges.
It went to the scorecards and a unanimous decision was called with tallies of 115-114, 116-114, and 116-113 to Ward (6-5-1, 6-4-2, and 7-4-1) who claimed the British title outright and added the Commonwealth title to his mantlepiece.
On first viewing, Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 116-112 in favour of Cacace while acknowledging the huge number of very tight rounds.
The narrow, first, defeat sees Cacace drop to 15(7)-1(0), while Ward improves to 18(8)-0-2