Ulsterman Damaen Kelly was robbed of a history-making European title victory in Belfast last night.

Bidding to become the first Irishman to win European titles at two different weights, Kelly lost a controversial unanimous decision at the hands of Italian European bantamweight champion Simone Maludrottu.

A stunned partisan crowd in the Andersontown Leisure Centre roared their disapproval when the judges' scorecards of 118-112 116-115 115-113 were read out.

Kelly and manager Tommy Gilmour looked totally dismayed at the decision and will most probably call for an immediate rematch.

The 33-year-old Belfast man, a former European flyweight champion, had dominated the first half of the contest as he repeatedly beat the champion to the punch.

Kelly's hand speed and sharp footwork were proving highly frustrating for Maludrottu, who simply could not get set to unload his own punches.

By the fourth round, Kelly was picking his punches with clinical accuracy and managing to stay out of range of the champion's counterblows.

The Italian was increasingly frustrated by Kelly's free flowing movement and his ability to land and then step out of danger with ease.

By the seventh round the champion began to get closer to Kelly and finally started to have some success with his own straight punching. Maludrottu seemed to take the next three rounds as Kelly's pace slowed a little and as they fought at close quarters the champion produced some of his best work of the fight.

But just as it seemed that he had grabbed the initiative Kelly then produced some fine boxing in the 11th and it seemed he only had to remain on his feet in the 12th to be handed the title.

But instead he was denied a famous victory and there was further confusion when it was discovered that the scorecard had initially been added up incorrectly. They should have read 118-111 116-113 115-113 in the champion's favour.

Afterwards British Boxing Board of Control chairman Charles Giles hinted that he would be prepared to back the Kelly camp in a bid to gain an immediate return with the Italian.

Giles said: "If any of our license holders make a complaint we will deal with it. The judging of European title fights is high at the moment. You always get differences of opinion at ringside. At this stage I am not going to make any rash decisions."

Gilmour described the verdict as "diabolical" and demanded that Kelly be given an immediate rematch with Maludrottu.

Gilmour added: "The punch stats said that Kelly landed 155 punches while the Italian landed only 87, so how on earth could he get the decision."