KEMPSEY boxer Solomon McElroy came within a whisker of beating an Australian junior champion in just his fourth bout last weekend.
The 15-year-old lost to hometown fighter Jack Grosser at the Gunnedah Pro-am event after a close three-round contest.
Grosser holds the national title at the 54kg category.
McElroy's trainer, Kristen Perrin – from Hudson’s Gym – said it had been just the kind of encounter his young charge needed.
"It came down to a split decision and there was only one point in it," he said. "Solomon needed a good fight. He bowled the last few over - he was just too strong for them."
Perrin said he felt the youngster had landed the bigger punches in the opening round.
McElroy took a count in the second round after sustaining, according to the trainer, a hit to the back of the head.
The Kempsey boxer then bossed the third round, keeping Grosser in the corner for most of the round and punching out his opponent's mouthguard.
Perrin said Grosser had the advantage of more experience.
It was McElroy's first loss in four fights, but the outcome did not phase him.
"He took it all right," Perrin said. "He wants to fight him (Grosser) again."
A rematch could come as early as next month, with a North Coast title tilt a possibility at Nambucca on October 20.
Assistant trainer Natasha Chapman was confident McElroy would work harder against Grosser next time around.
Should he win, McElroy could contest a state title at 57kg in Kempsey next year.
Another Hudson Gym junior boxer, Jacob Battle, missed out on a bout at Gunnedah, as organisers were unable to find a match for him at the 75kg weight