When it was finally over, it looked like an impossible task for the three men at ringside to separate the varied antics of both boxers.
During 12 rounds of often repetitive but always entertaining boxing, the task of finding a winner had been difficult from the opening round when Brian Magee was deducted a point for hitting and holding Robin Reid at the same time.
Magee was defending his International Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title in front of nearly 6000 of his local fans at the King's Hall, on the outskirts of Belfast, in a fight that was never, sadly, as good as expected, but in many ways provided several talking points before the final verdict was given to Reid.
The incident in round one when American referee Tommy Kimmons required less than a second to decide Magee had landed an illegal punch, was just a first in a series of incidents that combined to make Saturday's fight a truly bizarre event.
Magee settled down in rounds two and three by adopting an ugly but effective tactic of throwing a single punch and then grabbing hold of Reid who grew increasingly theatrical with his protests. Reid, at 33, the previous holder of two world titles,was fighting for his future.
In round four, just as the fight appeared to be slipping away from Reid, who looked both unusually old and slow, he connected with a short right at the end of the round and Magee was over. All three judges awarded the round to Reid by 10-8, which is standard practice when a boxer both wins a round and knocks his opponent down.
In round five Magee was sent tumbling to the canvas once more, but this time one of the three judges only gave the round to Reid by a mark of 10-9, which indicates that he scored a knockdown but failed to win the round in the judge's opinion.
Magee came back to win the next two rounds, but in round eight he was knocked down twice, but again, extraordinarily, one of the three judges actually decided that Reid had lost the round and scored it 10-8, but the other two scored it 10-7 in his favour. It was clear that the fight was posing a mathematical problem for the men at ringside, and a mathematical obstacle that Magee, was simply unable to overcome.
During the last four rounds, one judge gave three to Magee, another three to Magee and one even and the final judged scored it two rounds each. When it was over and the blood had finally been wiped from Reid's body from the cut on his forehead, it looked like either of them could get the verdict. There was a short silence when Reid was declared the winner with scores of 114-111, 115-111 and 113-112.
The contract for Saturday's fight included a re-match clause so a repeat is likely, but Reid insists it will not be in Belfast, which is odd because he did well on Saturday night as both the outsider and the visitor.
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