A boxing referee has come under fire over a controversial decision to allow a fighter to continue, only to see him cop a pounding seconds later.
The dramatic scenes unfolded in the junior middleweight contest between Jermell Charlo and Jorge Cota in Las Vegas.
The fight was originally supposed to be rematch between Charlo and WBC titleholder Tony Harrison, who was watching the bout ringside.
However, an ankle injury to Harrison meant he was a late withdrawal - leaving Cote as the man to feel the brunt of Charlo's frustrations.
A brutal right hand on the counter in the third round from Charlo caught his rival flush and left him crashing to the canvas.
Cota staggered to his feet as referee Jay Nady began the count - eventually given the green light to keep fighting despite holding onto the rope to help keep himself up.
Seconds after the referee waved the fight back on, Charlo pounced on his opponent with another devastating shot to the head.
The referee immediately called an end to the fight, but angry fans took to social media to question why Charlo was allowed to inflict more pain on a clearly defeated opponent.
This referee needs to go back to school. There’s a protocol a fighter has to follow to be allowed to continue. Cora was being held up by the ropes. Ref just took his arm off, wiped his gloves and let him get blasted. https://t.co/AgGgzYUbpJ— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) June 24, 2019
Poor officiating by the referee. Cota was done for after the first knockdown by Charlo. #pbconfox— Robert Thompson (@RT1959) June 24, 2019
Jermell Charlo did what he was supposed to do. But that referee damn near gets Cota killed. It was over after the first KO. #PBC— ET_IV (@ErnestToldenIV) June 24, 2019
#CharloCota Jermell Charlo @TwinCharlo with the one punch knock out power the ref should of stopped it after the first knock down, or his corner they forced your hand! no mercy no surrender #lionsonly way to shift the momentum now the pressure is on Tony https://t.co/o6arWUU3Va— DaMessengerJ (@mainvyn) June 24, 2019
No reason for ref to let the Cota fight to on after the Charlo knockdown made him take unnecessary damage— Pablo (@jpaul1329) June 24, 2019
Charlo was quick to praise his rival's bravery after the bout.
"I want to give a thank you and a congratulations to Jorge even though he took the defeat. He stepped into the ring. The guy that proclaims the title bagged out of the fight and [Cota] was the one who stepped into the ring as fast as he did.
"[The knockout happened] right in front of my family, which is amazing. My mom seen it all.
"We were just getting started and opening up. I landed a clean shot and it was clear. I'm trying to be great and I know there are a lot of guys lining up for the belt. Being able to get an immediate rematch that I've been waiting for and possibly the end of the year I'll be looking for all of the belts in the weight division."
When asked about a potential rematch with Harrison for the title, Charlo pulled no punches calling out his bitter rival.
"The fans will answer that," Charlo said. "Tony Harrison is in the building, that's his fault.
"He gets a chance to see what the Charlos come to do. I'm a much better fighter and he's lucky he didn't accept the fight with me this time."