SHEFFIELD'S Kid Galahad proved gracious in defeat after the first loss of his professional career to Josh Warrington but insisted his display proved he belonged in the top echelons of the featherweight division.
Mandatory challenger Galahad experienced the first setback of his career as Warrington retained his IBF featherweight world title via a split decision on points at First Direct Arena on Saturday night.
Judge Howard Foster scored the bout 115-114 in Galahad’s favour but Warrington received the backing of the other two cards by margins of 116-113 and 116-113.
Galahad was twice given warnings for spoiling - with promoter Frank Warren later saying the Sheffield fighter was "like a koala bear hugging on to a eucalyptus tree" but Galahad defended his holding tactics for giving himself the best chance possible of causing an upset in Warrington's back yard.
The 29-year-old also said his conqueror was definitely capable of unifying the featherweight division with Galahad open to the suggestion that he might one day take on Warrington again.
Warrington's camp were critical of Galahad's tactics but the Steel City fighter said: "You've got to do what you've got to win and that's it.
"At one stage he was coming in with his head and it is what it is.
"It doesn't actually matter. At the end of the day Josh won, the referee has seen it as he has seen it but it is what it is, Josh is going to go on and hopefully unify it and go on to bigger and better things.
"Hopefully he gets Oscar Valdez. I've sparred Oscar Valdez and he'll beat Oscar Valdez, 100 per cent.
"Oscar Valdez is good but I think he has seen better days and he's got a lot of wear and tear.
"Josh is young, hungry and fresh so if it goes out that day I believe Josh will go out and beat him (Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr).
"Leo Santa Cruz - he could beat him.
"At the end of the day, I believe Josh has boxed better kids and better boxers than that, especially in his last few fights.
"I think Josh is better than them two. But I don't think the other two will fight him. I think the only one will be Oscar Valdez."
Reflecting on what might be next for himself following the first defeat of his career in what was his 27th bout, Galahad said: "I don't really know.
"I believe I belong at this level and we will see where we are going to from here now.
"It would be hard to get mandatory again. He won't want to be fighting me again so I'll try and get mandatory again."
Asked if he could take on Carl Frampton, Galahad said: "Carl wouldn't want to fight me.
"Josh absolutely battered Carl Frampton once and I did a better job than he did.
"In this position he got battered so I don't think really think he'd want to be fighting me."