David Reid was taunting and talking to Australian challenger Kevin Kelly when suddenly he found himself on his back, put there by a looping left hook to the jaw.
Reid got up from that fifth-round knockdown and went on to retain the WBA super welterweight championship on a unanimous decision tonight at Boardwalk Convention Center.
Although Reid remained unbeaten in 13 pro fights, he was less than impressive and at times looked amateurish. When the decision was announced, many of the 1,967 fans booed.
"He was very game in the ring," Reid said of Kelly. "He was very tricky in the ring. He took a lot of good shots. I thought it was close but I thought I won."
Judges Marcial Vargas of Venezuela and John Stewart of New Jersey each favored Reid, 116-111, and Henk Meijers of the Netherlands scored it for the champion, 115-112.
"It was close but I thought I won," Kelly said.
Reid was mocking Kelly in the fifth round and at one point stuck out his tongue. Then, just a few seconds later and with only 16 seconds remaining in the round, the awkward Kelly launched a left hook that put down Reid.
"I just let my left hand down," Reid said. "He didn't hurt me."
Reid, making his first defense of the 154-pound title, remained cocky even after the knockdown, much to the frustration of his corner. "David has to learn to listen," trainer Al Mitchell said.
Reid denied he was being cocky and said he is looking forward to a potential match against IBF 154-pound champion Fernando Vargas, who defends his title Saturday night against Raul Marquez.
Reid had the faster hands but often was wild. He was unable to knock down Kelly but did cut him over the left eye in the eighth round.
Working in Reid's favor were his left jab and the fact that Kelly often chose to back away.
The 25-year-old Reid, the 156-pound Olympic champion in 1996, weighed 153 pounds. Kelly, 29, who also weighed 153, has a record of 24-6-3.