Craig Richards was unsuccessful in his WBA world title challenge as he lost a unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol in Manchester tonight.
But the 31-year-old from Crystal Palace gained in defeat as he pushed the Russian light-heavyweight, making his first ring outing in 18 months.
Many of the rounds were closely contested but Bivol, now 18-0 as a professional, nearly always seemed to come out just on top in the trade offs.
Richards looked unhappy after the scorecards were announced, clearly feeling he had done enough. Two judges did have it close – 115-114 and 115-113 – while the other marked it a far wider 118-110.
The South Londoner saw his record dip to 16-2-1 but the way he stepped up and was not overawed by facing one of the top fighters in the division could well open doors for other big bouts, especially with appealing domestic options like Joshua Buatsi, Lyndon Arthur, Callum Johnson and Anthony Yarde.
Bivol said: “The fight was really tough for me, because he is a smart boxer. He thinks all the fight but after one and a half years of rest, I think it is okay – it is a normal performance for me.”
PICTURES: MARK ROBINSON + DAVE THOMPSON (MATCHROOM BOXING)
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