Blackpool boxer Brian Rose had a lot of hard thinking to do about his future in the fight game after his 12-round points loss to Matthew Macklin at the 02 Arena in London.
Rose suffered the fourth loss of his career in a contest that was scrappy, messy and at times brutal, with both experienced warhorses displaying the gruesome scars of battle by the final bell.
Fleetwood referee Steve Gray was almost as busy as the combatants as Rose just came up short in the fight for the International Boxing Federation inter-continental middleweight title.
British judge Marcus McDonnell and Chicago arbiter Patrick Morley saw it the same way, giving the fight to Macklin by 115-111, while South African Neville Holtz marked it a draw at 113-113.
There were plenty at ringside who thought Rose had shaded it – the entirely unofficial and some may say inconsequential Gazette card had it 116-114 to Rose’s Birmingham opponent, a three-time world title challenger.
Rose believed he might have edged it but took Saturday night’s setback with trademark grace.
He said: “I am not going to make any excuses – I just could not get going.
“I expected him to fade and he did, but he wouldn’t give up.”
The final round looked crucial and, in the final analysis, was probably pivotal.
Rose, who suffered a badly busted nose (again!) agreed: “That charge in the last round won Macklin the fight. I think the judges were slightly out with the 115-111. I had it a draw or maybe me nicking it.
“I thought I won the earlier rounds just off the jab and Macklin won the later rounds, so it could have gone either way.
“Every credit to Matthew – he said he was going to retire and he has come and given the fight of his life.
Macklin, whose right eye was virtually closed by the end, said: “I thought I definitely won it. I started OK but then I got sloppy, lunging in and making technical mistakes.
“I probably thought I could bulldoze my way through Brian but he proved a lot more resilient than I would have given him credit for before the fight.
“Brian had a good defence. He was crafty and kept it really tight. I wasted a lot of energy in the early rounds going for the body but he just wasn’t there, so I had to re-adjust, faint and jab more.
“I think my experience won it for me. I was the one who wanted it more and that’s what won me the fight.
“I didn’t win in the convincing fashion I was hoping to –maybe Brian played a part in that. To dig in like that at this stage of my career shows resilience.”
It was an exceedingly tough fight to score and was nothing like the spectacle hoped for.
Both boxers showed clear signs of being past their best but demonstrated massive commitment and heart.
It was nip-and-tuck early, but Macklin had a good fifth round and by the next Rose was sporting a cut eye.
Rose had perhaps his best round in the ninth but the action was truncated by Gray telling Macklin about low blows and use of the head, while Rose was admonished for holding.
Macklin had a point docked for one such below-the-belt strike in the 10th, and when he found Rose with another in the 11th, Gray laid it on the line that any more would mean disqualification.
This observer had it 106-all going into the final session, for which Macklin came out with aggressive intent. He won the round as Rose was docked a point for holding.
Then came the time for the judges to make their decision and it was music to the ears of Macklin and a sad symphony for the wilted Rose.
n The bill featuring Fylde coast fighters RP Davies and Alex McCloy which was scheduled for Blackpool’s Urban Village Resort on Saturday has been rearranged for April 22.