Tony Bellew ruefully admitted he only had himself to blame for missing out on a shot at the WBC light-heavyweight title.
Home favourite Bellew, now with a professional record of 19 wins, one defeat and a draw, let an early advantage slip away against the Malawian Isaac Chilemba at Liverpool's Echo Arena on Saturday night as the final eliminator for a shot at the world champion Chad Dawson ended in a 12-round draw.
Scores from the judges of 116-112 for Chilemba, 116-115 for Bellew and an all-square 114-114 were indicative of a scrappy, hard-to-score bout but a crestfallen Bellew insisted he had done enough for the win despite a below-par showing.
"Do I think I've done enough, deep down? Yes, I do," he said. "I'm not stupid – I'm not going to stand on a set of ropes and put my hands up saying I've won [if I haven't].
"It's possibly the trickiest fight I've had – one minute he comes forward, next minute he's on the back foot. I hurt him a few times and he doesn't really show much. He's canny and he's clever but I just believe I'm a better fighter and I could have shown a lot more to my game.
"I want an immediate rematch, I'm willing to get right back in with him. I'd do it right now. Straight away I know there's mistakes that I made, there's definitely, definitely big mistakes. But that rests on my shoulders – I made those mistakes and I know I could have done more.
"I've been in 12-round wars and sometimes you go, 'I'm taking this round off, I'm having a blow this round'. That was the mistake I made, I think it was in round six or seven.
"He had a good round, it gave him a bit of momentum and he really started to come into the fight. That's my fault.
"You can't make excuses at this level and I could have done more. I didn't go through the gears in the way I should have done. I'm learning, but I'm learning at the highest level," Bellew added.Reuse content