DARREN Till suffered a narrow defeat to Robert Whittaker in the final fight from Fight Island but his performance was nothing to be ashamed of.
Whittaker, a former middleweight champion, secured a unanimous victory with each judge scoring the contest 48-47 after a bloody five-round contest.
The Australian finished the fight with blood pouring from a wound just above his ear, from a vicious elbow by Till.
He said: “I’ll tell you what, that fight was the most stressful.
“I hope the fans can appreciate it because that was one of the most technical fights I have ever had to fight.”
Till started well and came out in the first round looking very light on his feet.
The Liverpudlian read Whittaker’s strikes exceptionally well and managed the distance between the pair perfectly.
A beautifully timed elbow saw Till drop Whittaker – nicknamed The Reaper – in the first and that secured the round for him, but the tide turned in the second when the Aussie put The Gorilla down with a hook.
After chipping away at Till’s lead leg, Whittaker was able to come at the Englishman from a variety of angles whereas Till was forced to stand in front of the former champion.
Till even told his team the trouble he was having with his leg at the end of the third round and at that point, it seemed as though he was 2-1 down.
The fourth round didn’t have much in the way of notable moments, although a flurry from Till would have got the crowd on their feet had they been there.
However, it seemed as though Whittaker’s general busyness won him the round and it meant Till needed something special – or a finish – to win the fifth and the fight.
While he did win the round after slicing Whittaker open off an elbow in the clinch, it wasn’t enough to swing the whole fight in his favour.
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UFC superstar Whittaker appeared to be the more active fighter and given that he was ahead on the cards in terms of striking, it was understandable that the judges might lead with him.
However, Till’s stock has not dropped from this performance. It was as tight as they come and at 27 years old, he has plenty of top level fights at middleweight ahead of him.
Whittaker is now in the prime position to face Israel Adesanya in a rematch for the middleweight title providing the champion gets past Paulo Costa in September.