JACK Cullen tasted defeat for the first time in his professional career, in his third bout of the evening in Dublin.

Cullen travelled to Ireland shortly after a win at Bolton’s Whites Hotel, but after progressing to the final of Ireland’s Last Man Standing he was defeated by the eight-man tournament’s third seed, Irish amateur legend Roy Sheahan.

The fighter known as the Little Lever Meat Cleaver had collected the English Challenge Middleweight title at his hometown card seven days earlier withvictory over Huddersfield fighter Alistair Warren.

That victory not only brought him his first championship belt but took his record to nine wins from nine fights.

Named as fourth seed for the Last Man Standing, 24-year-old Cullen was left to face the opponent the top three seeds had opted not to take on, Nick Quigley. But the fourth quarter-final at the National Stadium went his way, with a unanimous points decision, 30-27 the score after the three rounds in which Cullen outworked his opponent from Merseyside.

Cullen faced Chris Blaney – another to take his pro record to a perfect 10 wins with three stoppages – in the semi-final.

The pair traded huge right hooks late in the first round but it was a ferocious flurry of punches landed by the Bolton man midway through round two, sending Blaney to the deck with another big right hook, that put him well ahead going into the final round.

Cullen was forced to maintain his work rate in the third and was awarded the match 29-27. But his exertions were to prove his undoing with a first-round loss in the final.

Sheahan, the better-rested man after his semi-final win against top seed and BUI Irish super-middleweight champion JJ McDonagh, landed a number of sharp jabs on Cullen among other shots in the early exchanges.

And, although Little Lever’s finest had Sheahan up against the ropes at one stage, when he found himself backed into a corner, his opponent got to work, his dominance prompting the referee to step in and end the contest, awarding Sheahan the victory and £25,000 winner’s purse.