The Belfast welter dropped hot favourite Brad Solomon in the opening round and was more than competitive throughout but was defeated on a 4-1 split-decision over ten rounds.
Gallagher was initially a second reserve for the Evander Holyfield-promoted, WBC-backed competition and was set to box in a battle of the alternates on the undercard at the KFC YUM! Centre in Louisville before successive pull-outs saw ‘The Pat-Man’ elevated to the tournament proper.
His rangey opponent brought a strong record into the bout and had scored a major win over Adrian Granados on the Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao undercard. However, Solomon had fought just twice since this win and there was a sense that Gallagher had a better chance than his 7/1 odds suggested.
The Lenadoon man tore into Solomon from the start and dropped the Georgia fighter in the closing seconds of the opener, a lovely left hook to the body downing and hurting the 34-year-old.
Gallagher had his chance and put on good pressure throughout the first half of the fight, winning the second, and having a fair shout for the third, fourth, and fifth.
One of the quirks of the tournament was the use of five judges and the implementation of open scoring mid-way through the bout. After five it was known that Gallagher was up by four rounds on two cards, two on another, level on one, and somehow down by two on the final one [49-45, 49-45, 48-46, 47-47, 46-48].
The announcement of the scorecards also signalled a change in momentum in the bout with Solomon coming on strong and Gallagher seemingly tiring.
‘King’ swept rounds six through nine before, as he always seems to do, Gallagher put everything on the line in the final round and finished the fight well.
Going to the cards, however, there was no joy. Gallagher took the bout 96-93 on one ledger, but the other four judges awarded the contest to Solomon on scores of 95-94 (twice), 97-93, and 97-93
Irish-Boxing.com felt Gallagher edged the contest with the knockdown proving crucial for a 95-94 score.
The defeat sees the Irish 29-year-old drop to 13(8)-4(0) but his stock will no doubt increase from his performance here on the big stage.
Solomon improves to 29(9)-1(0) and will now go on to meet Francisco Santana who upset Olympic gold medallist Felix Diaz tonight in the semi-finals in New York this Summer.
The corresponding quarters saw Chris van Heerden defeat Timo Schwarzkopf and Fredrick Lawson beat Baishanbo Nasiyiwula.