For Joseph Parker, there are no excuses.
And yet a headbutt from Dillian Whyte in the second round which put Parker on the canvas for the first time in his career is being seen by his camp as a significant mistake from referee Ian John Lewis, who also warned his fellow Englishman about roughhouse tactics at least four times but failed to deduct a point.
Parker was put down twice at the O2 Arena – the first in the second round and the second time in the ninth, the latter with a legal left hook. In the third and fourth rounds he didn't look himself as he struggled to regain the momentum of his early successful efforts, and there is little doubt Lewis could have been stronger on Whyte for pulling down, trying to push through the ropes and pawing with an open glove.
Trainer Kevin Barry said of the round two controversy: "It was a round we were winning. It went from a 10-9 round to us to a 10-8 round to Dillian. I think the effects of that headbutt where shown in rounds three and four. Joe wasn't himself. It wasn't until the fifth round that I believe he got everything going again. He was actually dazed from that. And shocked when he came back to the corner."
United Kingdom judge Steve Gray scored the fight 113-112, Frenchman Christophe Fernandez 115-110 and Australian Phil Austin 114-111.
Parker said: "The advice I was given by the team is that it was a headbutt. It surprised me and then I got back up and carried on.
"There are no bitter feelings from our team. We did our best. I did my best.
"Dillian came forward," he added. "I wouldn't say he was dirty but he roughed me up and did everything he could to get the victory. He showed heart."
Promoter David Higgins revealed Parker talked to him about the headbutt straight after the fight. "He's not one to talk about these things but he said the head behind the ear shook his balance and equilibrium," Higgins said. "To me something didn't seem quite right. There are no excuses. Dillian came in as a bully and was tough. For Joe to hang in there and to nearly win it at the end… we may have won it had we had another minute. It's a bittersweet and brutal sport."
Barry said Whyte should have had several points deducted. "I'm a little pissed actually. I talked to Ian about it before the fight. I said 'look, we're not after any favours. We've had a rough time from the officials but let's make it a fair fight'. I said 'we know this guy is going to punch after the bell and hit Joe in the back of the head – what are you going to do about it?'. He said … 'I'll caution him and take points off him.' I said 'really?'
"We know he's a dirty fighter and those are his tactics. They worked for him. Of course he should have had points deducted – 100 per cent."
Whyte's promoter Eddie Hearn said: "It was a left hook and then a headbutt."
When challenged on it, Whyte was in no doubt it was a legal punch: "You're not cheating me, you're cheating yourself, my friend," he told his questioner.
The drama comes after the controversy of Parker's fight against Joshua in April when the Italian referee refused to let the pair engage on the inside.
"The headbutt was probably a genuine mistake," Higgins said. "In the Joshua fight I think the referee consciously favoured the other side and tried to help him. That's my opinion."