I can come back, says Brian Magee after defeat to Mikkel Kessler
A mosaic of simple brutality was painted across a sold-out arena in Herning, Denmark on Saturday night and, like all major artists, maybe only when he has left public view will we truly appreciate the potency of Mikkel Kessler.
Lisburn's Brian Magee saw his 38-day reign as WBA World champion ended by the hammer-head fists of Danish hero Kessler just 24 seconds into the third round after a succession of lethal body blows.
Magee had edged a bright opening round but all the tactical plans and weeks of conditioning were deemed worthless by a hellish right hand which sank so far into the 37-year-old's body you wondered if it would require surgery to remove it. Doubled up in agony he sank to the canvas as Viking Warrior Kessler waited for referee Luis Pabon to declare the fight over.
Instead, southpaw Magee found the inner resolve to rise to his feet even though his face remained creased in torture. There was to be no coming back from this and he was down again just before the bell from another body shot and yet another did bring the end in the third.
As Kessler celebrated becoming a four-time World champion, Magee's team couldn't hide their shock at the manner of the ending or the dismay at the pain their hero was in.
“When I took that first punch to the body it sent ripples of pain right throughout my body. It caught me right on the sweet spot, at the point of the solar plexus which just takes your breath away.
“It left a sting and I never got over it,” said Magee.
The defending champion was in the form of his life coming into this fight but just as IBF champion Lucien Bute was too hot for Magee last year so Kessler found the ammunition to shoot down arguably his last opportunity to take the scalp of one of the major players in the 12st division.
Inevitably, there will now be a question mark over Magee's future in the ring. Nobody could blame him for hanging up his gloves with a healthy bank balance after a fine three-year Indian summer. There is nothing more to prove and after this he can only expect to be taking a step down.
“I'm not thinking about retirement. I feel as if I could go in and have another fight right now. Take away that perfect body shot and I was in the fight and I just wish I could have had more time,” said Magee.
“I have been fighting at a very high level so I don't want to be dropping down too much to another level. Having worked so hard it's so frustrating the way it finished.
“I'll have to see where this leaves me in the world rankings. I know that I can look back and say that I fought the best of my generation and I have a good record but my thinking at the moment is that I have just lost another fight and I can come back.”
While you can only admire the resolve of Magee, he will have to surely think long and hard about whether a return to the ring is in his best interests.
As for Kessler, he is planning to repeat his victory over IBF champion Carl Froch in 2010 with a return fight, probably in April.
The 33-year-old will start favourite to overcome Froch once again and that will then pave the way for a re-match with Andre Ward — one of only two fighters to have beaten the Dane.
Meanwhile, in London's Olympia Arena, Eamonn O'Kane suffered his first defeat as a professional when stopped in the eighth round by unbeaten John Ryder.Co Londonderry man O'Kane tried to overwhelm southpaw Ryder with his crude intensity but the Londoner settled into his stride and picked him off with some ease before a blistering attack brought about the end.
Belfast's Anthony Cacace remained unbeaten with a 40-36 victory over Youseff Al Hamedi in Edinburgh, while Mark Ginley suffered his first loss when stopped by Scotland's Kris Hughes with a nasty cut across the bridge of his nose.
James Tennyson (19) defeated Mickey Coveney over six rounds 60-54, taking his unbeaten record to four.
lManny Pacquiao admitted Juan Manuel Marquez deserved his sixth round victory in the pair's fourth fight, at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.
With Pacquiao leading 47-46 on all three scorecards, he was caught by a rocket right hand which left him on the canvas for the second time and earned Marquez a knockout win.
The emphatic ending also killed off what would have been the richest fight in history — a date with Floyd Mayweather jnr.