MANCHESTER, England -- Amir Khan retained his WBA light welterweight title on points after Paul McCloskey was stopped by the referee in the sixth round because of a nasty cut over his left eye on Saturday.
Referee Luiz Pabon deemed the cut to have come from an accidental clash of heads, and summoned ringside doctor Phil Sahu, who believed McCloskey couldn't continue with blood seeping into his eye and impairing his vision.
McCloskey disagreed but Pabon sent the fight to scorecards, and the Irish challenger and his team were livid.
All three judges had Khan leading 60-54 halfway through the scheduled 12-round bout, and the Englishman improved to 25-1 with 17 knockouts.
McCloskey, the European champion, was furious with the decision that cost him his first loss in 23 fights, and his team believed Khan should have been disqualified.
Khan started patiently against the challenger's rangy southpaw style. But Khan landed a big right at the start of the second that visibly shook McCloskey, who recovered with a few shots of his own by the end of the round.
McCloskey grew in confidence, and his left crosses in the third pushed Khan back.
Another tactical few rounds followed, with Khan the main aggressor.
In the decisive sixth, a five-punch combination from Khan staggered McCloskey and moments later the pair went toe-to-toe before McCloskey wheeled away and noticed blood coming from around his left eye.
The referee immediately brought the fight to an abrupt end to a chorus of boos from the 6,000-strong crowd of McCloskey fans.