Tom Whitfield will be back after a breather following his first professional defeat, writes Roy Kelly.
That was the message from coach Mal Gates after the South Shields boxer was stopped by Daniel Cope in the eighth round of his tilt at the vacant Northern Area welterweight championship.
Whitfield, who began brightly at Ashington, was a point up on referee Andrew Wright’s scorecard as the contest entered its last three rounds.
But Cope began the eighth round strongly, Whitfield’s legs dipping slightly after a left-right combination before being floored by a powerful right to the head.
The South Shields boxer was up at seven, but, looking unsteady, Mr Wright waved it off at one minute, 16 seconds.
“It was a good fight and Tom was ahead,” said Gates.
“But he got caught, and if you get caught that can happen.
“It was a good stoppage and fair play to Andrew Wright, Tom’s legs had gone.
“The last thing I want is for him to get hurt – he has a lovely family to go home to and all I’m interested in his health.
“I thought Tom was coming on strong but, to give Dan his due, he dug in there.
“I was very impressed with him, he kept his composure, he didn’t rush his work.
“At the end of the day, total respect to (coach) Neil Fannan and Dan.”
It was Whitfield’s first loss after four straight wins but Gates is confident his man will return and did not rule out a third clash with Cope with the series score now tied at 1-1.
“Tom needs a little rest and then he’ll be back,” he said.
“It’s up to Dan, he’s the champion and he’s calling the shots, if he wants to give Tom a re-match, fine, if he doesn’t then we’ll move on.
“Tom gave 100% and that’s all you can ask for.
“The sport we’re in, I say to the lads we don’t boast in victory and we don’t bleat in defeat, we accept the result and move on.”