THE judges’ scorecards for Anthony Yarde’s thrilling defeat at the hands of Artur Beterbiev made for heartbreaking reading for the brave British challenger.
The two light-heavyweight punchers put on an early Fight of the Year contender at Wembley Arena.
And Yarde, 31, pushed Beterbiev, 38, all the way until he was stopped in round eight.
So much so that he was ahead on two of the scorecards at the time of the knockout.
Robin Taylor had Yarde a point up at 66-67, while Jun Bae Lim saw him leading by three on 65-68.
Only Jerome Lades scored Beterbiev winning the bout, at 67-66.
The back-and-forth action provided fans with one of the best fights in a British ring for some time.
A pair of clubbing right hands in the eighth put Yarde down but the resilient Londoner made it to his feet.
Beterbiev, boxing’s only champion with a 100 per cent KO ratio, then piled on the pressure.
Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi threw in the towel while his man was still on his feet before things could get ugly.
Beterbiev made it 19 KOs and now faces the prospect of a unification with Dmitry Bivol, 31, or mandatory defence against England’s Callum Smith, 32.
And he insisted Yarde – beaten for the third time – can come again. He said: “Every boxer in this category can punch hard and Anthony did too.
“Anthony is 31, he’s young. I turned pro 28, he has time and I hope he does well in the future.”