Stephen Foster Jr's first defence of the European super-featherweight title ended in defeat as Ermano Fegatilli claimed a convincing unanimous decision in Bolton.
The 30-year-old was knocked down a total of five times as he faded badly towards the end of the fight under a barrage of body blows by the Belgian.
At the end of the 12 rounds, the judges returned scorecards of 114-110 and 114-109 twice to hand the crown to Fegatilli.
After the fight, Foster claimed that a virus had contributed to his lacklustre performance on the night.
"I don't want to make any excuse, but I got some sort of virus on Monday and it did me in," he told Sky Sports.
"I thought to myself, 'Yeah, I can do it, I've got a week to recover'. And with the training I did - I didn't want to throw anything away, I just wanted to soldier on."
Foster had the better of the opening round, rocking backing the head of Fegatilli, who spent most of the three minutes on the back foot.
The Belgian was livelier in the second, and a flurry of blows midway through the third forced Foster to momentarily cover up on the ropes.
Fegatilli kept up his impressive work-rate throughout the early stages, although Foster showed signs of life with a rally at the end of the fourth.
And the champion then looked to have stamped his authority on the contest in the middle rounds, only for Fegatilli to do some more damage in the seventh and eighth.
Fegatilli continued to work the body in round nine, and the assault finally took its toll as the crowd favourite was forced to take a knee before rising at the count of eight.
The challenger continued to fire in the 10th, and when Foster was knocked to the canvas a further three times it was clear that the Salford fighter needed a miracle to save his title.
Foster's trainer Maurice Core was on the brink of throwing in the towel after another knockdown in the 11th, but in the end allowed his fighter to see out the final bell.