Jono Carroll has been sensationally defeated tonight in England.
The super featherweight world title challenger was edged out by big underdog Maxi Hughes in a result no-one expected.
The Dubliner was in action behind-closed-doors at the Production Park Studios in Wakefield and lost out to a wily foe.
Carroll was busy as ever but the sharper work came from Hughes who took a narrow unanimous decision win.
Returning to the ring following his sensational stoppage of Scott Quigg back in March – the last major fight in Britain before the COVID crisis – Carroll hit nowhere near the same levels.
Considering this win, and his challenge Tevin Farmer last year, Hughes was something of a step down for ‘King Kong’ but the formbook was ripped apart by the on-form Rossington southpaw.
The 30-year-old Englishman has had a long career at British domestic level which includes draws with Ronnie Clark and Martin J Ward, losses to Ward, Scottie Cardle, Sam Bowen, and Liam Walsh, and wins over the likes of Cassius Connor, Kieron McLaren, and Ryan Moorhead.
Most notably, for Irish fans, Hughes came to Belfast in 2016 where he defeated then-rising star James Fryers. That night he showed plenty of ring smarts and they were on display again here as he claimed a huge win.
28-year-old Carroll has occasionally been described as a boxer who ‘fights to a level’, and his somewhat lacklustre win over Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela compared to his more explosive triumphs has been cited. This seemed to be the case here and Carroll would note after that his timing was just not there.
Hughes, a 10/1 underdog, showed early that he was not there to make up the numbers and caught Carroll coming in in the opener as the buzzsaw Dubliner was already looking to outwork and overwhelm.
Carroll was targeting the body well with raking shots in the second, looking to sap Hughes early although the Yorkshire veteran was standing firm and firing back with clean counters.
While he was being caught as he came in, Carroll was unbothered and continued to steamtrain through. However, Hughes would take the third purely on shots landed.
Spurred on by success in the third, Hughes upped the aggression in round four and Carroll responded in kind. Picking his shots better, the Finglas fighter stepped it up in the closing exchanges of a close round.
It was cagier in the fifth stanza as Hughes continued to frustrate.
Entering the second half of the bout, Carroll’s superior conditioning was perhaps starting to show and he appeared sharper. Hughes did land a big southpaw left but the sheer volume was telling.
Hughes came back well at the start of the seventh, another close round in an altogether closer fight than many expected.
A left hook from Carroll caught Hughes off balance in the opening minute of the eighth and this opened things up somewhat. Both had spells in another tight round, with Carroll again edging things in terms of activity if not cleanliness.
Fighting half a stone over his natural weight, Carroll did look the stronger and landed some thudding leather in the penultimate but Hughes zipped in his shots in reply and continued to assert himself.
The tenth and final round was furious, with Hughes landing a huge buzzing shot and going on the attack. Carroll fought back with gusto, throwing constantly while Hughes landed another huge shot of his own.
Going to the scorecards with absolutely no certainty, and following a nerve-wracking delay, Hughes was confirmed the shock winner on cards of 97-93 and two 96-95s.
The momentum-shattering loss sees Carroll, who took his defeat with class, drop to 18(4)-2(0)-1. Hughes, who was brilliant, improves to 21(4)-5(2)-2
Carroll, who was ranked #12 with the WBC and #7 with the IBF beforehand, had his eye on new stablemate and IBF champion JoJo Diaz.
However, he must now going on the rebuild.