N'dou and Hatton celebrate on the final bell
Matthew Hatton's bid to land the IBO welterweight belt ended in crushing disappointment, with the judges deeming his fight with Lovemore N'dou a draw.
Hatton, younger brother of former world champion Ricky, was the busier fighter, landing 91 punches to 78.
But each boxer received one score of 115-114 in their favour, with the third score of 114 apiece.
"I thought I won the fight by three or four rounds," Hatton told Sky Sports at Fenton Manor in Stoke.
Going into the fight, there was little to suggest Hatton, boasting four losses and a draw from his 42 fights, would emerge victorious, even if it was only the fringe IBO belt up for grabs.
But against an opponent 10 years his senior at 38 and far more used to mixing in the higher echelons of the sport, Hatton started at a fast pace, forcing his opponent back and landing with a series of solid jabs.
N'dou caught his man with a slashing shot in the second to open a cut on Hatton's eyelid, but the Manchester boxer responded with a stiff left at the start of the third to rock N'dou.
The middle rounds were tight, cagey affairs with Hatton seemingly forgetting his jab, but an uppercut sent N'dou back into the corner in the seventh.
N'dou, who had never been stopped in 59 fights, landed with an unanswered flurry of his own in the ninth and, after a tight 10th, backed Hatton up again in the 11th.
Hatton regained the initiative in the final round with N'dou seemingly looking for a knockout punch and the reactions at the final bell suggested Hatton would see his hand raised in victory.
However, the judges saw it differently, allowing N'dou to keep his belt and suggest a rematch could be on the cards.
"He gave me a tighter fight than I expected," admitted N'dou, who now holds a 47-11-2 record.
"I'm a champion, it was a close fight, but I thought I was in control of the fight. I was landing more scoring punches than him."
Hatton, unsurprisingly, disagreed adding: "Sometimes I'm my own worst critic, but I know I won that fight - I don't care what Lovemore says, I won."