Erik Robles stunned Lee McGregor to claim the vacant IBO super-bantamweight title in a gripping bout at Meadowbank.
After a captivating 12 rounds in Edinburgh, the Scot’s homecoming fight ended in heartbreak after all three judges scored in favour of the Mexican.
The Mexican had a rowdy crowd against him, but he started strongly in the first round by putting the home favourite under serious pressure.
McGregor responded, though, with good jab work and a nice body shot in an electric introduction. That did little to derail Robles, who maintained his impressive start in the second with precision and power in his combinations.
McGregor, known for starting slow and finishing strong, improved in the third despite having to deal with relentless flurries from the rapid gloves of the Mexican.
The early pace of Robles was unsustainable and that became noticeable in the fourth as McGregor took advantage and looked to get a foothold in the fight with hard-hitting uppercuts and shots to the body.
However, when questions started to be asked about Robles’ endurance, the Mexican would eliminate those doubts with quickfire combinations and smart movement.
McGregor, meanwhile, was having to show his “big heart” earlier than he would have hoped with the bout at the halfway stage.
The Scot’s seventh and eighth rounds were more about guile than guts, with a strategy of taking shots from distance, including two big left hands, proving fruitful.
The ninth brought another level of intrigue considering it was the first time Robles had ever been as far in a professional fight, but the man from Mexico never looked too deep after delivering a strong finish to the round.
The energy levels of both fighters were questioned early in the tenth. Then, bang. Robles unleashed in the centre of the ring before McGregor hit back with a stunning left and a crunching body shot that left the Mexican holding on.
A captivating encounter continued to ebb and flow in the penultimate round, with McGregor doing a mix of eating and blocking bursts from Robles.
A raucous Meadowbank crowd helped drag McGregor through the 12th as a rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland rang around the venue, with both fighters raising their hands at the final bell.
However, it was Robles’ glove the referee would lift when it mattered as McGregor dropped to the canvas in heartbreak.
Ten weeks ago, the Scot doubted whether his boxing could continue after a two-year spell littered with injuries, postponed fights, financial worries and family concerns.
Despite defeat, the Scot should not let this defeat derail a career that still promises so much at the age of 26.