At the end of 12 fantastic rounds there was something sadly inevitable about the calculations from the three men at ringside when they confirmed that Britain's Matthew Macklin had lost his world title fight on Saturday by a debatable split decision.
Macklin dropped his head in disgust in Cologne when Felix Sturm's hand was raised, his World Boxing Association 'super' middleweight title secure, but it quickly emerged that the commentators on German television had made Macklin a clear points winner. Sturm offered Macklin a rematch, perhaps as soon as November, shortly after the scores of 115-113 for Macklin and two of 116-112 ended the British fighter's brief celebrations.
"Sturm knew that he lost the fight and he has to now save face with his broadcasters and give me another chance," insisted Macklin. "A fighter knows when he has done enough to win a fight and I know that I won by three or more rounds. I knew there was a danger of getting a bad decision in Germany and I'm very disappointed with the officials."
Macklin set a furious pace from the opening round and it seemed impossible that the fighter from Birmingham, who has trained and lived in about a dozen cities since turning professional 10 years ago, could maintain the two-handed attack. However, Sturm was seriously taken out of his stride and after six rounds there was simply no respite from Macklin's fists.
"I kept the pressure on and made him fight my fight," said Macklin. "He struggled to get going and whenever he did have some success I came back with two or three punches of my own. It was a hard fight, but I won it clearly. I'm gutted."
In the last five rounds Sturm started to measure his counters with added precision and, as Macklin's punches lost a bit of their speed, he scored with a lot of eye-catching and head-jolting single punches. Macklin, in all fairness, only looked hurt and in trouble during the last 20 seconds of a glorious fight; up until that point he had, as he claimed, countered Sturm's punches with two or three of his own.
"Sturm knows he lost, his fans in his hometown know that he lost and German television knows that he lost," added Macklin. "I don't see any other option for him - he has to give me a rematch and he has told me that he will. Next time I will make sure that the judges are not needed."