Lewis Ritson's world title hopes were wrecked by a punishing 10th-round stoppage loss to Jeremias Ponce at the Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle.
Ritson, fighting in front of 1,000 Geordie fans, was floored on three occasions by the relentless Argentine, who became the IBF mandatory challenger for Scotland's undisputed world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor.
It was a hard night to watch for fans in attendance as the home fighter was hurt in the opening round from a barrage of body shots by Ponce.
Dominating every round bar the fifth, the South American fighter floored a bruised and battered Ritson in the tenth and it appeared over after his corner threw the towel in… or we thought it was.
In a bizarre turn of events, referee Steve Gray picked up the towel and launched it out of the ring before allowing the fight to continue.
Ponce's punching prowess would force the encounter to be halted in the round though, after sending Ritson to the canvas on another two occasions.
"Thanks very much for wishing me well after my fight," Ponce told Matchroom. "It was a very tough fight, a lot tougher than I expected it to be. I expected a war with Ritson and he's a tough fighter - tougher than I expected.
"Yes I did think it was over in the first round - it was a great body shot that I hit him with. Any other boxer would have gone down.I hit him right on the button and it would have hurt him. He showed his toughness that he was able to recover from that.
"It was a bit confusing when we were in the ring because I thought the fight was over as soon as I saw the towel come in. Then I saw the ref throw it out - to be honest it was a bit of a shock. He's probably hurt in the rib area now and he wouldn't have been if he stopped the fight when we saw the towel come in.
"It's one step closer to my dream. It's the dream that you always have as a fighter. I'm one step away from that now. Thank you very much, I'm sorry it didn't turn out as you expected, but thank you very much."
Ward returns with win
Thomas Patrick Ward picked up the 30th win of his professional career, thanks to a stylish unanimous decision victory over Edy Valencia Mercado.
Ward (30-0-1, 4 KOs) came out on top thanks to scorecards of 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93, seeing him get back in the win column following his technical draw with Thomas Essomba last October.
"I hadn't boxed for nearly a year before Essomba," Ward told Sky Sports. "It was a bad year, and that wasn't me on that night. We're only humans and not machines, but tonight was a better night.
"It was a great fight for the fans, and I'm so happy to have them back. I really enjoyed it in there. At super bantamweight I had a great ranking with the WBO, IBF and WBC. This fight was at 128lbs, but I've been chasing Emanuel Navarrete for a while.
"He's a great fighter, and I got close to fighting him at super bantamweight and thought I would have got my shot. We have both moved up now, and I want to fight him."
Another one bites the dust
Alen Babic blasted aside Damian Chambers with a huge left hook as the Croatian heavyweight contender added another knockout to his destructive record.
'The Savage' Babic produced a dramatic one-punch knockout of Chambers, sealing his seventh straight stoppage, as he returned to the ring following shoulder surgery.
"The third time I've gone into the third round, but it's good it's only another half a minute probably," Babic told Matchroom. "All kudos to Damian Chambers, I love him, he's a very tough guy.
"I have the power to knock guys out who are 130 kilos, he was like 89 and took those shots. I thought, 'what is this guy made of?'. I love Damian Chambers.
"That's why I didn't do any trash talk, the guy took a fight on six days' notice against 'The Savage' and he saw my knockouts. I have nothing but respect for the guy, I'll never disrespect guys like that.
"I saw the whole arena, they're on my side, my heart is so full, I love Newcastle. I'm going to come back and drink brown ale tonight. I just feel so blessed to be here, I sense the synergy between Newcastle and me since day one. I'm so grateful."
Patterson prevails on debut
Cyrus Pattinson shined on his highly-anticipated professional debut - stopping Bulgaria's Yoncho Markov in two rounds.The former Team GB talent dropped Markov to the canvas twice before referee Victor Loughlin waved off the contest.
"I was really happy with my performance, it was a bit cagey early on, we knew he was eager - he's been game as a badger all week," Pattinson told Matchroom.
"It was a bit unorthodox, stepping through his shots sometimes, I couldn't judge the distance but after the first round I started settling down. I told Graham in the corner that this was only going to go one way from there.
"I put my shots together well, I know that I dug them in - head and body. I was really happy with where we went in the second round.
"This was better than I ever could have imagined it, the support I got tonight was overwhelming, I didn't realise it was going to be like that. I've always said that the atmosphere in Newcastle is second to none so what a way to start your debut."
Dacres moves to 2-0
Former Team GB standout Solomon Dacres took Alvaro Terrero out in four rounds to earn his first stoppage win in the pros and progress to 2-0.
'The Real Deal' was taken the distance in his pro debut against Mladen Manev at Manchester Arena last month and was keen to earn his first win inside the distance in Newcastle.
"I took my time the first couple of rounds, I got a few clean shots off but when I stepped up in the fourth and the ref jumped in it was fair because I was starting to land clean on him then," Dacres told Matchroom.
"As a Heavyweight you want to get the knockouts, that's getting my first one out the way and now hopefully many more to come."
Hunter continues progression
April Hunter progressed to 4-0 with a comfortable points win over Hungary's Klaudia Vigh in the first televised fight of the evening.
The 26-year-old from Wallsend was bumped up to the televised segment of the show after Ellie Scotney's opponent Vanesa Caballero test positive for COVID-19 - resulting in their fight being cancelled.
'The Hunter' was fighting in her home city for the second time as a professional following a hard-fought win against Elsa Hemat in Barcelona - and sent her fans home happy with a 40-37 decision.
"I'm leaving feeling happy, the support is amazing," Hunter told Matchroom. "I'm never going to be too happy; I'll always be critiquing myself because I'm a baby in the game - I'm just learning the job."