Lee Purdy's unlikely week in the glow and neon of world championship boxing came to a tearful end in the arms of his temporary cornerman Darren Barker on Saturday night in Atlantic City.
Purdy, a former British champion from Colchester, was a late replacement in the IBF welterweight title scrap with Devon Alexander and his lack of preparation time made him pay the cost at the scales 24 hours before the first bell.
The first time that Purdy stepped on the scales, looking drained and lacking conditioning, he was 1lb 2oz over the limit. Purdy returned, after a brief visit to the sauna, accompanied by his promoter Barry Hearn, and was still 8oz over. He looked, as one of Sky television's team said, "like a ghost".
Hearn, a veteran of 25 years in the boxing business, finally decided that losing any more weight was a risk. "There was simply nothing left," Hearn admitted.
Purdy was hit first with a fine of 10 per cent for his failure to make the weight and that reduced his purse to $135,000 (£87,827), which was still his highest by some considerable distance. It is, certainly at Purdy's level, close to life-changing money and that is why he pushed his body to try and lose the weight.
It was decided that the fight would still take place but that Purdy could not win Alexander's title; the $15,000 (£9,758) fine was split evenly between Alexander and the local commission.
The fight's pace was dictated with ease from the opening bell by Alexander, who is an exceptional champion, and the slick southpaw connected with every punch he threw, often needing to guide his accurate punches up under, round and through Purdy's tight guard.
It was, even by the second minute of the opening round, a heroic early stance by Purdy. It was also a lost cause and even when it was obvious that Alexander had injured his left hand there was simply not enough in Purdy's tank to make it a competitive fight.
"I wish I had eight weeks to prepare and not four," said Purdy at the end. "He was not hurting me but I just didn't have it tonight."
Purdy replaced Kell Brook, when the British No 1 pulled out for the second time in five months.
Alexander's dominance never dipped and Purdy was told repeatedly by Barker that he needed to move his head and throw more punches.
Purdy was receptive in the corner and was goading Alexander with insults throughout the fight but he simply had no strength and speed. It was close to becoming uncomfortable to watch when Barker, a genuine world-class fighter in his own right, called the referee over at the end of round seven.
"It's finished," he repeated when Purdy complained. Tony Sims, Purdy's long-term trainer, who was absent on the night, would have done exactly the same thing. "He can come back from this, that's why I pulled him out," added Barker.
Alexander is likely to ignore Brook and could be back in the ring in November or December against Amir Khan, who was a ringside guest and is determined to move up from light welterweight to welterweight. It is a fight that can be easily made because Golden Boy promotes them both.
Meanwhile, Purdy will return to Essex a richer man, with just a few lumps across his face and also a much better fighter for his American adventure.
It was not all bad news for Purdy, as Barker was informed shortly after the fight that he would meet Daniel Geale, from Australia, for the IBF middleweight title on 17 August in New York.Reuse content