Lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (8-0-1, 3 KOs) had the toughest assignment of his professional career on Saturday night when he fought to a majority draw against Ramesis Gil (6-3-5, 5 KOs).
The Dubliner was fighting on the undercard of the light welterweight WBA super/IBF title fight between Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C. in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 9,000 people.
Kavanagh hoped to reel off his fifth consecutive win of the year to end 2011 on a high but Gil, from the Dominican Republic, turned up to fight.
Kavanagh endured a difficult shift, and he had his first setback of the night in the first round when a clash of heads opened a cut on his right eye that would later require a total of 14 stitches.
Things got worse in the second when he injured his right hand. In the third, another clash of heads again put him off his game, but the Dubliner felt that he did more than enough over the course of the six-round contest to win the fight.
"I thought I won every round except maybe the first and the third," he told the Irish Voice on Sunday before flying to Spain to take his Christmas break.
Kavanagh went on to say that his trainer Freddie Roach thought he won five of the six rounds as he deemed that his charge was throwing the cleaner and more accurate punches.
The three judges saw the contest differently, with two judges scoring it 57-57 and the third scoring it 58-56 in the Irishman's favor.
"I got seven stitches on the inside and seven on the outside (of the cut). I injured my hand but the x-ray said it was not broken, but it feels the same as it was when I broke it before," said Kavanagh of the injuries he picked up over the course of the fight.
Kavanagh suffered a hairline fracture of his right hand in 2008 at the Youth World Championships. That time, the x-ray showed no damage, but later on an MRI revealed the break. Kavanagh plans to get an MRI on the hand once when he is settled in Spain to ascertain if any damage was done.
Kavanagh also expressed his disappointment about the performance of the referee, who he says did not intervene in the first or the third round when the fighters accidentally clashed heads.
"When the cut happened we had to change our game plan, and when I hurt my hand the game plan changed again. He was a strong come-forward fighter. It was a tough night," he added.
Though it was a challenging evening, one positive Kavanagh says he is taking out of this is that he did not fold under the adversity of the bloody cut or the hand injury.
"I had to battle from the second round on," he said, adding that every time he threw the right from the second stanza on caused him a lot of discomfort. However, he said he knuckled down, did what his corner told him and gutted it out to the end of the fight.
Kavanagh will now take some time to rest and heal. There were tentative plans to fight in February on the undercard of Adrien Broner’s first defense of his WBO super featherweight world title in Missouri, but all will depend on how much time it takes for him fully recover from Saturday's effort.
In other news, according to boxrec.com, Maureen Shea (18-2) defeated Diane Ayala (11-6-30) at the Estadio Centenario, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico to win the vacant WBC featherweight title.
Ramesis Gil punches Jamie Kavanagh during their Lightweight fight at Washington Convention CenterGetty Images / Al Bello