Ian Clarkson considers the best way forward for the best fighter in Birmingham...

If cricket is the new football, then boxing is most definitely the elderly version of the beautiful game.

Wayne Elcock's British title fight in Plymouth on Friday evening transferred you back in time to the mid-1980s, as both sets of supporters chanted and the respective gladiators arrived in the ring separately to stoke up the atmosphere.

Birmingham has been lacking a night like this since Robert McCracken was in his heyday and proved there is still a sizeable boxing fraternity prepared to watch top fights. However, while the atmosphere generated sent a shiver down your spine, there was a scene afterwards that left a sour taste.

A select group of around 40 Elcock supporters - including a fair percentage of women - were confronted by local hooligans who weren't content with Scott Dann retaining the British title.

They wanted blood and they weren't particularly selective in who they wanted to attack. Mercifully, the situation didn't escalate, but the nasty undercurrent brought back memories of the dark days in football when brawls were commonplace.

It is an issue that boxing needs to address if it is to maintain its surge in popularity with the rise of Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan.

According to fans who travelled to Plymouth, they didn't feel that the local security staff were bending over backwards to ensure their safety and that is irresponsible at such a prestigious fight.

This is just a side issue to the main event, however; the real question is: where does Elcock go from here?

He is undoubtedly the city's best boxer along with Matthew Macklin and his self-belief will soon be back after a week of reflection.

Despite the scorecard of the judges, I believe that Elcock pushed Dann far closer than the result suggests and still has a lot to offer at 31.

A career of 16 fights means that he still has plenty of time on his side - five years is a conservative estimate - and, by his own admission, he was only boxing at 40 percent of his full capacity.

Pre-fight threats of retirement, should he lose against Dann, have thankfully been consigned to the dustbin and when his fractured finger finally heals, it will be time to take one step backward to progress.

The middleweight was fighting once every four months when he claimed the WBU world title in 2003, but has only had two fights in the last two years after a contractual dispute and injury.

Inactivity is always the biggest noose around a boxer's neck and finding reliable promoters and opponents is notoriously difficult. However, the last thing Elcock needs as this stage of his career is a series of four-round fights travelling the country on undercards.

He might have to step back and fight for the Midland or British Masters title in order to put some real mileage under his belt.

It could appear a backward step, headlining small-hall shows, but he will be guaranteed regular opponents and the chance to be fully prepared should the British title chance arise again.

Elcock has already proven he can live with the best and he should take a step back because at the top of his game, there is no doubt he has the necessary tools to overpower Dann.

However, it is time for Elcock to start looking after No 1 and if that means the normally garrulous boxer stepping back from the limelight, then so be it.

"I am gutted, as I don't feel as though I have done Birmingham proud," he said in his post mortem.

The affable middleweight possesses an almost missionary zeal to put his home city back on the map in boxing terms, but no-one is holding him responsible for not bringing big title fights back to Birmingham.

Verbal sparring prior to a fight is a pre-requisite in boxing but, if Elcock can concentrate on what he does best and not burden his shoulders with the hopes of a city, then he will return to his best.

He is as fit as the proverbial butcher's dog and a series of fights in the Midlands could build up his support base even further.

His title dreams may have taken a left hook last week, but the manner of his performance means it is unlikely to be a knockout blow.