Jono Carroll failed to capitalise on the biggest chance of his career after a split decision draw with Guillaume Frenois in the Sheffield Arena.
The Dubliner knew that he would secure an IBF Featherweight World title shot with Tevin Farmer with victory over the 35-year-old, but in the end he was arguably fortunate to come away with the stalemate, with his French opponent visibly annoyed with the scoring.
The judges had it 115-113, 113-115, 114-114 in a bout that Carroll shone in earlier on, but faded badly and was clearly second best for all of the latter rounds.
Carroll looked to be on his way to victory early on, rocking his opponent in the second and fourth with left hooks, as both fighters received cuts due to head clashes.
But Carroll began to slow down and after some extremely close rounds in the middle of the fight, Frenois started to take control.
Frenois was regularly catching the Inter-Continental title holder but rather than improve on defence, Carroll gestured for the French fighter to continue coming forward.
The closing round saw Frenois celebrate, as did Carroll, but the feeling was that momentum and superior shots throughout the fight would give the away fighter the win.
However Carroll came away with a controversial draw.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said he would speak to the IBF board and raised the possibility of a rematch. Alternatively, both fighters could get their chance at Farmer in March and the summer respectively.