The show was called “Nightmare before Christmas” and for some of its cast - that was all too apt a title.
Liam Cameron, 23, normally such a stylish operator, was punished for seemingly lacking in heart and work-rate against a doggedly determined Rod Smith, 22, who had boxed 13 times less professional fights and was rank underdog.
The battle for the international middleweight Masters title at iceSheffield went 10 gruelling rounds - and Manor Park’s finest just could not repel the advances of Dronfield’s four-fight greenhorn.
An hour previously there had been an even bigger shock, when 6ft 8ins David Howe was KO’d by average Lithuanian Imantas Davidaitis, who was three stone four pounds and eight ounces lighter!
So-called ‘Ginger Rocket’ Jamie Robinson, from Bolsover, also showed aggression isn’t everything in boxing; he lost to stubborn journeyman Michael Stupart.
Fortunately, Curtis Woodhouse, the former Sheffield United footballer, bucked the trend. He, Rossington’s Maxi Hughes, Derbyshire’s Ryan Fields and Sheffielders Joe Rodgers and Jerome Wilson eased through with wins on this rollercoaster Dave Coldwell bill.
Howe, 33, who was also KOd in 2008, now has a W10 L2 record. He tried to be philosophical after losing Friday’s battle.
Talking on video at thestar.co.uk, he said: “I definitely didn’t expect it, but that’s the name of the game. If I am honest my preparation wasn’t the best. I went to New York (the previous week) for five days, I was ill. I’m not looking for any excuses, loads of fighters look for excuses when they’ve lost, I’ve been beaten that’s it. All I can do is make sure I don’t have the same build-up and preparation for the next one.”
Howe added: “I am gutted, obviously, all I can do is dust myself off and get back in there. It’s a set-back, but there’s the old saying set-backs pave the way for come backs. Hopefully I’m still young and fresh enough to make a dent in this division and have a go.”
If Howe’s execution was a swift one, Cameron faced a long, ugly and mentally-sapping reverse.
Cameron’s trainer Dom Ingle told him he was competing against a “four-round fighter” who would blow out of steam. But when it became clear that Cameron’s jab was not making any impact on the slightly-crouching, high-guarded, come-forward opponent, the Sheffielder’s will deflated.
In round three Cameron seemed to lose balance after being caught on the ropes and was given a count which was to prove critical to the eventual 96-95 verdict.
As the fight wore on Cameron’s supporters became increasingly frustrated as Smith chased their man down. Cameron suffered a crisis of confidence and although he produced some of his best work in round eight, he didn’t hurt the steely-eyed warrior who was much fitter than some had thought.
* Doncaster’s deposed world champion Jamie McDonnell beat Abigail Medina with an eight-round decision at the Excel Arena, London.