Cacace left frustrated as Ward edges title battle
In most sports doing just enough to secure a victory can be perceived as a virtue, but not in boxing, with three men deciding your fate and Anthony Cacace found that out the hard way on Saturday night.
His loss to Martin Ward in their British and vacant Commonwealth title super-featherweight title fight at the Wembley Arena by unanimous decision (115-114, 116-114, 116-113) was not a robbery, but simply a case of what proved to be more emphatically pleasing on the eyes of the judges.
Cacace had landed the higher quality blows and appeared to have more tools in his armoury but the bustling, hard work of Ward took the day and the Belfast man cut a frustrated figure as he headed back to his dressing room. Five-and-a-half years after turning professional he finally had the opportunity to take a major step forward and now he is left wondering when, if ever, his next chance will arrive.
"It's very disappointing for Anto and for us all and another downside after Saturday night is that now he has shown that he's a dangerous, awkward fighter Anto's going to find it difficult to get another chance," said manager Pat Magee.
"Ward now has the Lonsdale belt outright but whether he vacates the title or not, the British Boxing Board of Control already have a series of eliminators in place so we will have to sit down and work out where he goes from here.
"I've always believed that he's a fighter who can compete above British level so that's what makes it so disappointing that he didn't get the decision. I thought he did enough to win but a lot of the rounds were very close."
If Cacace is to have a regret from this 12-rounder then it will surely be that he didn't shift through the gears when the chance presented itself. After a tight opening five rounds which left him seemingly just ahead, the 28-year-old dominated the sixth as he rammed home his single, spearing blows, but then allowed Ward to outwork him in the seventh round.
The ninth proved even better for Cacace who was at his most aggressive, picking off Ward with solid left and right hands. The momentum was there to go and close the show with the same intensity, but instead Cacace's level dropped and Ward was allowed to take rounds 10 and 11. Those six minutes evidently proved crucial as Cacace Then took the 12th after again raising his level of intent.
Now Ward moves on to his next title opportunity while Cacace and manager Magee must plot a route back for a fighter who needs another chance to realise his true potential.
Also on the Wembley bill, Lee Selby retained his IBF featherweight title with a unanimous points victory over mandatory challenger Jonathan Barros, who was knocked down in the final round.
Selby had decided to fight, despite the death of his mother earlier in the week. "I'm going to try to enjoy this win as much as I can, and now I'll drive home and face the harsh truth of what's happened," said Selby, who would like to face Northern Ireland hero Carl Frampton in his next defence. "The hardest part was having my younger brother call me early on Tuesday morning.
"He woke me up and told me the news. I had my older sister on the phone too crying, all of us together crying and them telling me to come home."
Meanwhile, Chris Eubank Jnr. comfortably outpointed former world champion Arthur Abraham in the main event.