Gunnar Jackson may have lost the fight but he gained worldwide respect against Japanese superstar Ryota Murata in Las Vegas yesterday.
The Tauranga boxer went to America with high hopes and he did not disappoint up against London Olympics middleweight gold medallist Murata.
Jackson went toe-to-toe throughout the 10-round contest at the Thomas and Mack Centre, with his excellent fitness showing through to the end.
Neither boxer landed any telling combinations or was hurt at any stage of the fight, but Murata's three-inch reach advantage proved to be the telling factor. The fight was awarded by unanimous decision to Murata, 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93, with Jackson frustrated at being unable to get a decent shot at Murata. More below.
"The biggest issue was trying to get inside his tight guard. It was hard trying to move the angles on him as well as he kept coming forward relentlessly," a relaxed Jackson said straight after the fight.
"Apart from that I am happy with how things went. He caught me with a couple of good punches but he didn't get too many heady punches in. It was a huge opportunity for me to take and show the world what New Zealand has got to offer and I hope I did NZ proud. I came out for war and gave it my all."
Jackson has previously gone the distance with former world champion Anthony Mundine but rates Murata as a tougher opponent.
We wanted to give it a real nudge, not just come over and be an opponent.
"Mundine probably has the better boxing skills but this guy here was bigger, stronger and just had more relentless pressure."
Jackson's trainer, Chris Walker from TGA Box, was ringside with his fighter.
"I thought we were right in the fight. We wanted to give it a real nudge, not just come over and be an opponent. We didn't get the result we wanted," Walker said.
"We had watched the guy on tape quite a few times and had a few things to work on but putting it into practice was a lot harder. He is quite big and quite strong but Gunnar scored with some really good shots. I thought he did really well.
"He has been seen now by a lot more people so it may open up some new opportunities for him. It is all about exposure.
"Millions and millions of people watched, including in Japan where Murata is a boxing superstar at the moment. We will just have to wait over the next few weeks and see what happens from that."
Jackson's fight was one of the main bouts before the WBO welterweight world title bout between Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios.