FRUSTRATED Steven Pearce has claimed his hopes in Prizefighter were ended by an illegal punch.

The 28-year-old was stopped in the second round by eventual champion Glenn Foot at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

Pearce had been felled earlier in the round by a swinging right and been given an eight count by referee Steve Gray.

But he feels it should not have been ruled a knockdown.

He said: “I had actually rolled away from the punch and he caught me just behind the ear.

“I looked right at the referee because I was convinced it was an illegal punch.

“I expected to get 10 or 15 seconds to compose myself but then he started counting.

“I’ve never felt anything like it before. I couldn’t feel anything down the one side of my body, it robbed me of my senses.

“He was very strong and I think he would have beaten me anyway. But I felt the referee made a mistake.”

When the fight resumed, Pearce was soon shipping solid blows as Foot began to up the tempo.

The Stourbridge man hit the canvas for a second time after being wrestled to the ground by his opponent and while that wasn’t ruled a knockdown, Pearce was visibly struggling and after another flurry of shots from Foot, referee Gray stepped in with one minute 17 seconds remaining.

Despite the disappointment, Pearce is determined to take the positives and has already lined up his next fight, back at Civic Hall on March 9.

A possible shot at the Midland title is also being mooted, with Walsall’s Joel Ryan and Derby’s Luke Gallear touted as possible opponents.

Pearce added: “This won’t stop me. The aim is still to fight for the Midland title in the summer.

“I was a bit concerned Prizefighter might be a backward step for me but the money and all-round experience will be of huge benefit.

“My prediction is you will see a better fighter the next time I get into the ring.

“Foot will be British champion one day and to go up against him taught me a lot.”