Over in Germany, Martin Murray came agonizingly close to making it a double-celebration for northwest fighters in title bouts, only to come up on the wrong side of a split-decision in a tense clash with WBO Super Middleweight belt holder Arthur Abraham.
Abraham now joins Gennady Golovkin, Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm as champions who retained their crowns despite being pushed all the way by Murray.
Murray tried to finish it off but Abraham held on and made it safely to the bell. In the ninth he came again. Murray’s counters were good but the champion seemed to have regained all his wits quickly enough.
The challenger tried to impose himself upon Abraham in the latter rounds after that success, but crucially in the 11th round, the referee took a point from the St Helens’ man for holding.
Murray pushed the Armenia-born German all the way but scores of 115-112, 112-115 and 116-111 saw him come away from the bout in Hanover empty-handed, and his first reaction was to think about his future.
“Obviously I’m gutted,” said Murray. “I really thought it was my night and when the final bell went – even though we were in Germany – I still thought I had it. I still thought I had done enough. When they said it was a split decision even then I still thought I’d got it.
“I know I’m too good to retire but the way I am feeling now, what can I do? It was my fifth shot. I just can’t keep doing this. I just can’t keep doing it to my family.”
Hearn believes that Murray still has plenty to offer though, and has urged the 33 year old to return strong and aim for a fifth shot at glory next summer.
“There are so many big fights at Super-Middleweight for Martin and I want him to have a little rest, come back in the New Year and go again in a big fight at World-level in the summer,” said Hearn. “Abraham is so underrated. People say he’s one-dimensional, but he has a wonderful defensive guard, he hits hard, he’s strong and fit, and he’s very hard to beat. I hope he keeps his head up as he put in a great performance and he should be proud of himself.”