Kell Brook was stopped by Errol Spence Jr as he lost the IBF world welterweight title in dramatic fashion at Bramall Lane.
Brook, who had surgery on a broken right eye socket eight months ago, never fully recovered from his left eye swelling The Sheffield fighter was put down in the 10th when Spence ruthlessly went to work on the eye but, roared on by home support, rallied bravely.
He would last just one more round, though, as referee Howard Foster ended the contest despite Brook rising on a nine count after taking a knee.
There were boos of disappointment from the 27,000 in attendance at the home of Sheffield United but Brook, wearing shorts sporting the colours of the club he supports, looked accepting of his situation,
Spence, meanwhile, had already begun celebrating during the count, sensing his rival could not continue.
The 27-year-old was impressive in what was an incredibly close contest until the late stages. And, when Brook began to struggle, he pounced, savagely jabbing at the eye and clubbing away at the body with follow-ups.
When Spence put his rival down in the 10th, Brook’s quick leap to his feet intimated he was suffering more with the chaos of injury than through the power of punches coming his way.
But promoter Eddie Hearn believes his fighter may have broken his eye socket, the same injury he suffered against Gennady Golovkin eight months ago.
“I couldn’t see out of the eye, so I had to stop,” said Brook, who later went to hospital for treatment. “I thought it was very competitive, he won a few rounds, I won a few rounds, I felt I was in the fight.
“I’m gutted, devastated that in front of my own fans I’ve lost my belt.
“When I walked out of the tunnel and saw everybody, it was amazing. I’m so proud of myself for having brought this to Sheffield. I got hurt when I got put down, I’m a warrior and when you can’t see, there’s nothing you can do.
“I will fight anyone, what the fans want, where the money is. I’m sorry for everyone that came out. We made a great night for Sheffield and brought a lot of money into Sheffield. I hope everyone has had a good night.”