Dave Birmingham has been backed to come back stronger after suffering big-fight disappointment.
The former Pompey defender went down to a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Jumanne Camero in his bid to win the Southern Area lightweight title.
Birmingham was fighting for the belt in just his sixth contest after turning pro last year.
The bout was waved off in the sixth following a battle in which the 36-year-old proved he could hold his own at title level.
Trainer Michael Ballingall has backed Birmingham to grow from the experience and believes the Leigh Park man has more in the tank.
He said: ‘Dave can hold his head high.
‘He didn’t disgrace himself in the slightest.
‘We went in genuinely believing we could win the contest.
‘Dave had only had five bouts but he’s a fighter – a real man.
‘My motto in the gym is “be real” and I have no messing about.
‘Dave is all about that. He was offered the fight, I put it to him and he went for it.
‘We knew he wasn’t that experienced and hasn’t been a professional long.
‘But he got in there and had a real go at it.
‘There is no doubt he will come back stronger from this.
‘He’s got no ideas of quitting and it’s an experience he’ll learn from.
‘Two years ago Dave was doing something totally different and now he’s fought for a Southern Area title – he is a true warrior.’
Camero showed what a tricky customer he is and used his freakish height advantage to his benefit.
The 22-year-old towers at 6ft 1in – well above average for a lightweight.
Ballingall felt Birmingham handled the challenge well, however, and was having his say in the match-up before the end arrived.
Nonetheless, he was proud of his charge’s efforts.
‘It wasn’t a one-sided affair in the slightest and it was cracking little contest,’ Ballingall added.
‘He was catching him with shots and the officials came over afterwards and said what a good fight it was.
‘Camero was very tall and an awkward opponent.
‘Dave got caught with a shot and used the ropes to steady himself.
‘Jumanne stepped straight on him and landed some vicious shots.
‘But Dave is a tough lad and went down fighting – I thought it was an even affair until he got caught.
‘A lot of boxers wouldn’t have taken that fight.
‘But Dave loves a challenge and he wanted to grab the chance that was given to him.
‘It’s an experience he’ll learn from it. He’s going to have some time off and get going again.’