Carl Frampton has opened the door to a deciding fight with Leo Santa Cruz - quite literally.
On a desperately disappointing night for the Jackal in Las Vegas he surrendered his WBA featherweight crown to Leo Santa Cruz as the rivals' rematch was every bit as brilliant as their classic first battle last summer.
With the focus immediately switching to a deciding third fight between the pair, Frampton has offered Santa Cruz bed and board so long as he sticks to his word and comes to Belfast for the third instalment in one of the most gripping rivalries in modern day boxing.
"He can come and stay in my house if he wants and we can get it on for a third time," said Frampton in the wake of a majority decision defeat that he could find little reason to quibble with.
"After that, I could come to LA, who knows? This could be three, four or five fights. I want to fight Leo again, straight away.
"I won the first fight, he won the second fight, let's just do it straight away.
"I feel like I've been on the road for two years now, fans are spending a lot of money to come and see me. I would like to repay them with a fight at home. Let's get it right and settle the score in number three."
100% Carl can win the 3rd anywhere in the world if he uses the right tactics! https://t.co/YQTxk2jigr— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) January 29, 2017
Frampton earned fighter of the year honours largely on the back of a supreme counter-punching performance in the first meeting six months ago.
This time out however, he couldn't find the same rhythm, the same balance between aggression and efficiency.
Santa Cruz, on the flip side, was much smarter second time round, making his reach and height advantage truly count, jabbing his way out of danger and continually finishing tighter rounds with a flourish.
"I'm very disappointed," said Frampton, his face bruised but his pride hurt deeper. "It was a good fight. Me and Leo have had 24 rounds with each other, they've all been competitive. It's 1-1 now so if I'm to look at any positive out of this, it's that we have to make it a trilogy.
"He surprised me. I honestly didn't know he could box like that. Hand on heart, I feel he deserved the win. Leo used his experience and stole [a couple] of rounds at the end.
"I feel like I had a bad start. My feet weren't what they should have been and I played to Leo's plan. I was coming forward trying to be the aggressor. I prefer people coming to me.
"The gameplan was good. I had an unbelievable camp, I sparred well. I can't really make excuses."
Was a little late to the party but I agreed with judges, I had Cruz by 2. Tactically and technically he got it right. Bring on round 3! ??— Bernard Dunne (@Bernard_Dunne) January 29, 2017
When joined at the post-fight dais by his conquerer, Frampton appeared more at ease when Santa Cruz insisted he will stick to his word on his promise to come to Northern Ireland for that rubber match.
"I'm a man of my word and a true champion will go anywhere. Once I get in the ring, it's just me and Carl Frampton. I'm willing to go up there," said Santa Cruz, a three-weight world champion who had been stung by his own first career loss in Brooklyn.
“Before the fight I said I wanted revenge and I wanted to work hard. I went to the gym and I worked hard and I did what I had to do.
“My head was telling me to go forward and pressure him, but my dad and corner were telling me to box him. That’s what I had to do."