Martin Murray's quest for a world title at the third time of asking ended in disappointment but not embarrassment when he suffered an 11th-round stoppage defeat to WBA world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in Monte Carlo on Saturday.
The St Helens boxer was not a match for the unbeaten Kazakh, who ended the contest in the penultimate round with a barrage of blows, to earn his 32nd victory of his career, and 29th by knockout.
It was a brave but ultimately fruitless endeavour from Murray as Golovkin led the contest from the outset and kept up his impressive record of winning all of his world title fights by stoppage.
Both fighters made a tentative start to the fight, with few punches thrown in a cagey first round.
It was a different story in the second, however, as Golovkin backed Murray onto the ropes and unleashed a fierce uppercut that landed heavily on Murray's chin.
Murray responded with a couple of counter-shots but they did not appear to trouble the world champion.
Golovkin found a way through Murray's defences towards the end of the third round with a swift left-right combination that shook the Englishman but the bell sounded before the Kazakh could go in for the kill.
Golovkin smelled blood and Murray was doubled over in pain with 50 seconds of the fourth round left after his opponent caught him with an almighty shot to the stomach before forcing a second count moments later with another fearsome uppercut.
Murray, with blood streaming from his nose, managed to survive until the end of the fourth and regained some composure in the fifth, but Golovkin inflicted further pain just a couple of seconds from the bell with another powerful right landing successfully.
The sixth saw Murray acquit himself a lot better and a succession of combinations, although they did not trouble Golovkin, gave him food for thought and the seventh passed without incident for both fighters.
Golovkin upped the ante in the eighth but left his assault a little too late and time ran out just as the champion appeared to be penetrating Murray's defences once again. Murray fell to the canvas once again, but this time he merely lost his balance.
Murray's defences remained steadfast in the ninth and, although he was visibly tired, so too was his opponent and Golovkin could not find the knockout blow when he manipulated Murray onto the ropes.
Golovkin very nearly found it in the 10th, however, as he tried to duck away from a Golovkin haymaker but was caught on the side of his face.
A six-count ensued and the fight was over 50 seconds into the 11th round when referee Luis Pabon stepped in to stop the fight as Golovkin unleashed a barrage of blows in the corner as Murray's defences finally wilted.Reuse content