Luke Wilton left the Liverpool Echo Arena having failed to land the British and Commonwealth flyweight titles but at the same time raising his stock considerably in the British boxing fraternity.
Defending local champion Kevin Satchell was deservedly given a unanimous decision after 12 gruelling rounds but scores of 119-112, 119-110, 118-111 were harsh on the east Belfast challenger.
Both men finished with cuts over their right eyes in what was largely a toe-to-toe struggle that brought a standing ovation from the Liverpool crowd.
Wilton was naturally "heartbroken" but also felt that he had taken his career to a new level.
"I gave it everything I had and I proved that I have the cojones to mix it with anyone," said 24-year-old Wilton.
"I always knew I had it but I think I proved to a lot of people just what I'm made of.
"Although I lost, this was the best way to lose – I got a great reception afterwards.
"I've watched the fight three times and he deserved the decision, I think he won it by two rounds.
"He hurt me in the eighth round but I came right back at him and probably won that round.
"He may go on to fight for the European title and if he does then I would like to think that I would be nominated for a shot at the vacant British title.
"It was a real honour to fight for the British title and I think I did everybody in Belfast and Northern Ireland proud. Now I just want more chances."
Wilton had won the opening round with his all-out aggression and probably edged the second before Satchell took control.
At the start of the eighth round it looked as if Wilton's challenge was going to come to an end as he was backed up to the ropes but instead he dug deep and came firing back in a ferocious three minutes.
Both men were clearly feeling the pace in the final quarter of the fight but they nevertheless kept pumping out the leather and despite losing, Wilton still managed to win the last round.
Dad and manager Alan Wilton said: "I am very proud of Luke, he couldn't have done any more. He fought to orders and he fought with great heart.
"He has a busy time now with his wedding on St Patrick's Day but I'll be working on trying to get him another title fight, maybe an EU title shot."
In the main event, there was a major shock when heavyweight David Price was knocked out in the second round by American Tony Thompson.
At the York Hall, Bethnal Green, Martin Rogan bowed out of Prizefighter at the semi-final stage to eventual winner Audley Harrison.
Rogan had brawled his way to a third round stoppage of former European champion Albert Sosnowski in the opening quarter-final but was then easily outboxed by Harrison, losing 30-27 on all three judges' cards.