Boxing Promoter Eddie Hearn says Liverpool’s Tony Bellew can still aim at a world title, despite being beaten by Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City on Saturday night.
Bellew, 31, had been tipped by some to win the fight, for the WBC light-heavyweight title, and got a strong start in the early stages of the fight, leaving the Canadian needing work to stop blood from his nose.
However, the local man came back in the sixth with a heavy blow followed by another which knocked Bellew to the canvas.
The fight was stopped shortly afterwards by the referee when Bellew continued to come under a barrage of blows from his opponent.
It was Bellew’s second defeat, two years after he lost to Welshman Nathan Cleverly while going for the WBO title.
There had been a bad-tempered battle of words ahead of Saturday’s fight, leaving Bellew red-faced.
"I'd like to apologise to everyone for not doing what I said I would do,” he told the Daily Star.
"I gave it everything and the better man won and that's it. I'm gutted. To the fans who travelled, I'll be forever in your debt. I'm truly shocked."
However, Hearn has said Bellew can follow in the footsteps of middleweight Darren Barker, who recovered from a defeat by Sergio Martinez to come back and become IBF champion.
"I'm gutted for Tony, he took on the best in the division and came up short,” Hearn said.
"Darren Barker did the same two years ago and Tony will come back stronger."
Bellew is now considering a move up to cruiserweight, with a possible shot at Cleverly.
"Maybe it's time for me to jump up in weight now," Bellew said.
"Someone else has recently jumped up in weight and it might be time for me to do it.
"This fight might have been one too many for me. I was feeling them tonight and it's not like me to feel shots."
Meanwhile, Cleverly last week pulled out of his scheduled cruiserweight debut against Daniel Ammann at the Copper Box in London on Saturday night with a back injury.