EAMONN O’Kane fans had that sinking feeling in the Titanic Quarter on Saturday night.
The middleweight World no 10 had to endure the dreaded technical draw after his opponent was forced to withdraw due a cut with clash of head origins.
However, whilst the Derry puncher will claim frustration at being denied a chance to register a victory that would have moved him a step closer to a World title shot, the referee’s decision to call a halt to the fight under 15 seconds shy of the bell to end the fourth could prove a blessing in disguise.
The former Commonwealth gold medal winner was in all manner of trouble in the first round. He was stumbled trough the ropes after two big right hands from opponent Virgilijus Stapulionis.
The Lithuanian went for the kill after O’Kane survived the count, but the bell came to the popular middleweights rescue.
Credit to O’Kane he recovered well over the minute break and looked to have regained his senses. The following rounds were scrappier than a scarp yard and had more up close and personal holding than a slow set and in one of those many bullish embraces Stapulionis suffered a bad cut over his left eye.
So bad was the gash that the referee ordered it be inspected in the corner and when the IBF ordered opponent’s corner tried to treat the cut Stapulionis was docked a point.
Both punchers threw bombs over the next round and a half but struggled to land clean. A wrestling match ensued and the away fighters cut worsened.
If the fight would have been stopped any time after the fourth round the judges scorecards would have came into play, but with just seconds to go before the bell to end the third the referee called a halt to proceedings and the fight ended in a technical draw.