Tommy Langford’s bid to regain the British middleweight title fell from Jason Welborn short by the smallest of margins after an enthralling contest at Arena Birmingham.
Langford lost by a split decision against his Brummie rival, with the judges scoring 113-114, 114-113 115-114 in favour of the defending champion.
It was a testament to Langford that he took the fight the distance, recovering from knockdowns in the first and third rounds and reasserting himself to take the match right down to the wire.
The Bideford born boxer took control in the middle rounds to get back in contention before a grandstand finish in the final round saw Welborn do enough to take the final decision.
Speaking to Sky after the bout, Langford said: “I am absolutely devastated, but all I can do is congratulate Jason.
“We’ve had another great fight that we’ve shown to a wider audience this time.
“All I can do is congratulate him again. I am mortally gutted but I will come again.”
After losing to a the tightest of split decisions last time out, Langford’s attempt to reclaim the belt got off to the worst possible start after a crisp right hand from Welborn put him down in the final 20 seconds of the opening round.
Langford looked to have settled but he was rocked again midway through the third round as he was sent to the canvas again by two crashing right hooks from Welborn.
The 29-year-old made it up, but was in survival mode as he saw out the rest of the round before settling again in the fourth, showing a good work rate.
Welborn upped the pressure early in the fifth, with another right hand opening up a cut over his left eye, but Langford replied in the next round with some of his best work of the fight, landing repeated combinations and displaying some of the game plan that looked to have left him in the early rounds.
As the fight moved into the second half Langford had recovered from the early knockdowns and began controlling the fight, looking rejuvenated in the seventh and eighth rounds and putting Welborn under the cosh with repeated combinations and opening up a cut under the champion’s left eye.
As the bout entered the championship rounds Langford kept up a good work rate through the 10th and into the 11th rounds, by which time he looked to have got himself in front on the cards.
But Welborn came out flying in the final round, laying a barrage of punches on Langford in the opening exchanges. Langford came back with some punches of his own after a slip with both fighters putting on a grandstand finish in the final 90 seconds.