McCarthy's title bout hopes in ruins after frustrating defeat
Tommy McCarthy cut a dejected figure after his loss on Saturday night when the Belfast man learned that sometimes there simply is no substitute for experience.
Matty Askin pulled off an upset when outpointing McCarthy in Manchester in their British cruiserweight title eliminator and moves on to face Craig Kennedy for the vacant belt.
In stark contrast, McCarthy must return to the gym and learn some valuable lessons as he seeks to recover from this surprise setback.
A quiet start was shattered by McCarthy hitting the canvas in the fourth round for the first time in his boxing life and a further flurry ended by an uppercut sent him to the floor just before the bell.
His senses scrambled, McCarthy was still feeling the effects as he went out for the fifth but to his credit showed the tenacity and resilience to take the round.
He continued to force the action with varying degrees of success as Askin simply got on his bike and mugged him for the next seven rounds, holding at close quarters and picking his shots from range.
McCarthy did land a left hook that shook the Blackpool man to his boot straps at the end of the ninth but it was just before the bell.
At the end of 12 largely frustrating rounds for McCarthy, Askin looked the winner though the scores of 116-111, 116-111 and 117-110 seemed a little harsh on the 25-year-old who was having only his 10th fight.
The defeat came 24 hours after Paddy Gallagher and Conrad Cummings had also lost important bouts on points, completing a terrible weekend for Northern Ireland boxing.
The one glimmer of light was a points win for Anthony Cacace over journeyman Leonel Hernandez.
McCarthy said: "I knew going into the fight how negative Matty boxes but I thought he might have been a bit more proactive early on.
"I felt comfortable but then got caught and after that I was having to force the fight. It's tough to take, when he put me down I was in shock and the second one was a really heavy knockdown - I felt my head was alright but my legs weren't.
"It's a big blow but I will learn from it.
"David Haye, one of my favourite fighters, got knocked out early in his career in a fight he was expected to win against Carl Thompson and came back to win World titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight titles.
"He had to learn and I'll do the same.
"The positives are that I did my first 12 rounds with ease, my fitness was there and also I showed that I can come back from a crisis.
"This is sport, you have your setbacks and it's how you come back from it."
Manager Pat Magee was all set to organise McCarthy's British title shot with Kennedy on Saturday night only for the script to be ripped up by Askin's shrewd tactics.
Magee said: "Overall we know that Tommy is much better than that, it was a disappointing performance. He's a natural counter-puncher and once he had been dropped in the fourth Tommy was having to chase the fight and at a times throwing some wild shots to try and turn the fight around.
"It puts all our plans up in the air. I had hoped to be talking with Kennedy's people about when and where we could do the fight but that is now out of the window.
"It's not the end of the world but we'll have to see where we go from here and what route Tommy needs to take because for now the British avenue seems closed."