CRAIG Evans will have to wait for another crack at the British lightweight title after being stopped in the penultimate round of his barnstorming final eliminator with James Tennyson.

Blackwood’s Evans suffered the third loss of his 25-fight professional career having recovered from a knockdown inside the opening three minutes of the all-action encounter in Liverpool.

Evans’ fightback was so impressive – he fought most of the contest with a severely swollen right eye and bloodied nose – that the result could well have gone his way had the bout lasted the distance.

But, in the end, it was Tennyson who put himself in line for a shot at the Lonsdale Belt, referee Steve Gray stepping in with 60 seconds of the 11th round to go as Evans came under a fierce attack.

Liverpool had been a happy hunting ground for Evans prior to the fight, with victories on all four of his previous trips to Merseyside, three of them coming at Saturday’s M&S Bank Arena venue.

Evans, 30, went into the eliminator aware of the power his rival possessed – 21 of the 26-year-old Northern Irishman's 25 successes had come inside the distance.

And it took less than three minutes for Tennyson to show he meant business, landing a crunching right hand to force Evans down onto the ropes and then to take a knee and count from the referee..

Evans didn’t panic and he managed to see out the round despite a further barrage of blows from Tennyson.

From that point on Evans’ right eye began to swell up, but with the help of cornerman Billy Reynolds, the affected area didn’t prevent the WBO European champion from boxing on.

Evans gradually started to gain a foothold in the contest, his confidence growing as Tennyson couldn’t finish him off.

You can in no way doubt Evans’ chin, fitness or bravery, and those three things served him well throughout.

And from the third round onwards it was his ability to find a way through the Tennyson defence, aided by some nifty footwork, that began to restore parity.

While his single shots and combinations were on the button, he did start to drop his hands when Tennyson came forward, something that Evans continued to do until the conclusion.

It wasn’t a totally clean fight. Tennyson was warned for leading with his forearm a couple of times and he struck Evans with a low blow that temporarily took the wind out of the Welshman.

In the eighth round, before the low blow, Evans came off worst after what was deemed an accidental clash of heads, with his nose feeling the full force of the collision.

The high tempo did see the pace slow slightly later on, however, both men continued to find the target in a contender for fight of the night.

It looked as if it would go to the judges’ scorecards, but Tennyson had other ideas.

He had already caught Evans with a big left hook when another left was followed up by a right, another left and then one more right.

At that point the referee decided Evans’ race was run, although the fighter clearly felt he could have gone on.

Meanwhile, Pontypool’s Kieran Gething is out of the Golden Contract super-lightweight tournament following a heartbreaking exit at the hands of Jeff Ofori in London.

The York Hall quarter-final between Gething (9-2-2) and Londoner Ofori (10-1), a late replacement for Lewis Benson, ended in a draw.

When the three ringside judges can’t separate two fighters in the MTK Global event the winner is decided by the referee.

In this instance, Kieran McCann felt Ofori had done enough to progress to next spring’s semi-finals.

McCann was called on after Ian John Lewis scored the 10-round contest 96-95 to Gething, Marcus McDonnell went with Ofori 96-94 and Lee Every had it level at 95-95.