Carl Frampton's learning curve got a great deal steeper on Saturday night but manager Barry McGuigan is convinced that he remains on course for a British title fight.
"IF I was offered a British title tomorrow for Carl I would grab it, no doubt about it," said McGuigan who watched his protege struggle at times to a unanimous points victory over awkward Welshman Robbie Turley at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena, 98-91 96-93 98-92.
Frampton, cut around the right eye, floored Turley in the seventh but had a point deducted for hitting after the bell in a fight that saw him all too often throwing single blows when punches in bunches would surely have got the job done a lot easier.
It must be said, though, that Turley proved to be a very difficult opponent to tag and, even when he was momentarily hurt in rounds eight and nine, the challenger managed to cover up and get back to his boxing from distance.
While Frampton retained his Celtic title, it was also an eliminator for the British super-bantamweight title and now McGuigan will hope the British Boxing Board of Control nominate the Belfast man for a shot at British champion Jason Booth.
McGuigan said: "I think Carl tried to knock him out too much, he needed to be throwing more combinations to back him up. The guy was a much improved fighter and he was very awkward but I thought the longer the fight went on the more Carl showed his class.
"It took me back to my fights with Jean Marc Renard and Charm Chituele when I struggled but won and then some people were thinking 'oh he's not as good as they said' but I can tell you I'm as convinced as ever that Carl will be a great fighter. As long as the doctor says his eye will be alright then I would hope to have him out again before the summer."
Frampton said: "It was my first fight live on Sky and I wanted to impress, so I'm a bit disappointed but I got the win and I'll learn from this."
In the main event, Cavan's Andy Murray suffered his first defeat as a professional, losing to Welshman Gavin Rees in their vacant European lightweight title fight, 115-112 115-112 116-112. Murray came on strong in the second half of the fight but he had given himself too much to do.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Eamon O'Kane dropped Lithuanian Dimitrijus Kalinovskis twice on the way to a debut victory at 2:33 of the first round in Cardiff.