ROTHERHAM boxer Lee Appleyard failed in his bid to become a two-weight English champion despite a brave show against top prospect Dalton Smith.
Appleyard was stopped on his feet in the sixth round of Saturday's contest at the AO Manchester Arena as his Sheffield rival dominated to move his pro career to 8-0 and take the vacant super-lightweight strap.
Afterwards Smith paid tribute to the spirit of the Bramley man.
"All credit to Lee. He is one tough kid," he said. "I was prepared for a fast-paced ten rounds but he was just taking too many shots in there.
"I am good friends with Lee out of the ring and when you go in there it's just business.
"I knew the shots were going to come and he wouldn't last long."
Appleyard (33) will now think over his next move after the sixth defeat of his 23-fight pro career.
He had won the English title back in 2017 and Saturday's fight was his first since an enforced 18-month absence from the ring.