Dan Azeez’s return from the first defeat his career was undermined when he disappointingly drew with Croatia’s Hrvoje Sep over eight rounds at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.

The former European light-heavyweight champion, 34, lost for the first time when in February, at the conclusion of 12 competitive rounds with his friend Joshua Buatsi, he watched Buatsi awarded a deserved unanimous decision. 

He had since seen Buatsi and Anthony Yarde become one of the most sought-after fights in the UK – it was previously on course to be the main event at Selhurst Park – but he had been expected to record his 21st victory and to immediately return to contention for another high-profile fight.

The light-heavyweight division is among the strongest in Britain, and while the 38-year-old Sep was recognised as an opponent over which Azeez could start to rebuild, he largely laboured over the course of eight rounds – even if he appeared to have deserved more than the score of 76-76 awarded by the referee Bob Williams.

There was a moment in the fourth round when Sep swung and missed with a wild right hook and Azeez appeared on course to build some momentum. There was another in the sixth when he hurt Sep, who for the first time looked at risk of being broken down, but for a fighter who typically thrives when imposing himself over longer distances, Azeez struggled to sufficiently impress and will be faced with having to rebuild his career.

The promising Francesca Hennessy had by then outpointed Dorota Norek over eight two-minute rounds at bantamweight, via a score of 77-75. 

There had also been stoppage victories for Deevorn Miller, 153 seconds into the first round of his cruiserweight fight with Edwin Mosquera, and the heavyweight Lewie Pochetty, who stopped Tobie Vermeire after 154 seconds.

Mitchell Frearson outpointed fellow middleweight Marco Simmonds via a score of 40-36 over four rounds.