Michael Conlan has been controversially eliminated from the Olympic Games in Rio after losing his bantamweight quarter-final bout to Russian Vladamir Nikitin.
The idiosyncratic judging of Olympic boxing, a feature of the Rio games so far, came to the fore early when a strong first round for Conlan was instead awarded to the Russian.
After the first round Conlan changed his approach in the second in an attempt to impress the judges with a full-on aggressive style and damaged Nikitin with an excellent display of power hitting, sending the jaded Russian backwards.
The world champion was duly awarded the second round but then a similar approach to the third round, which Conlan appeared to dominate, was ignored by all three judges who again awarded the round to Nikitin, dismaying the Belfast man.
Afterwards, Conlan was unable to contain his emotions and insisted that he had been cheated and that "amateur boxing stinks",
"I was here to win Olympic gold, my dream’s been shattered now," Conlan told RTÉ Sport.
"But you know what, I’ve a big career ahead of me and these ones, they’re known for being cheats and they’ll always be cheats.
"Amateur boxing stinks from the core to the top."
Conlan bounced into the ring and was again greeted by a big-screen shot of his daughter Luisne watching from the crowd, and again the Belfast fighter looked inspired as he opened the fight using his long jab to keep the aggressive Russian at bay, while scoring at will off the back foot.
Nikitin, to his credit, kept coming forward with his head down and hands up trying to land, but Conlan used his skill and strength to drag the guard down and score at will. An old wound opened on the side of the Russian’s head and that would become a feature for the remainder of the stop-start fight.
But the decision from that opening round set the scene for the eventual outcome as somehow, all three judges went with Nikitin and suddenly the task became an uphill one.
Word appeared to come through to the Irish corner that their fighter was down and Conlan’s style changed early in the second round as the world champion went on the front foot to fight fire with fire against the full-on Russian.
And if Conlan boxed his way through the first round, he went into full fight mode for the remainder of the second round. The blood was now splattering all over each boxer and the referee sent both boxers to the corner to get cleaned up.
The jaded Nikitin undoubtedly used these breaks to get his breath back, while a pumped-up Conlan kept the pressure on throughout and continued with the aggressive style right until the bell.
Back to the judges and this time, Conlan gave them no possible choice but to award the round to the world champion, and so parity was restored with all three awarding the Belfast man a 10:9 round.
So into Round 3 and by now Conlan was fighting at a level rarely needed by the world champion but he was well aware of how the judging has been so random at these Games after Monday night’s heavyweight final was controversially won by Evgeny Tishchenko, the fighter bizarrely awarded gold in his final bout with Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit.
Conlan kept the tempo high and the accuracy consistent as the Russian again kept coming but was offering little.
Conlan stayed close in, almost leaning on his weakening opponent driving punch after punch, alternating between head and body. Nikitin was scoring from time to time but never close to the rate which he was receiving.
That style of the Russian paid dividends in the opening round, obviously impressed the judges once before, but as that final bell tolled, most felt the decision would surely be with Conlan in the red corner.
The Belfast man stood in the middle of the ring alongside the referee with arm raised as he expected his other one to follow.
But the arm hoisted was that of Nikitin, and disbelief soon turned to anger as Conlan let his feelings known, both by voice and gesture as he eventually exited an amateur ring for what will surely be the last time.