Carl Frampton struggled to hold back the tears as he called time on his illustrious career after being stopped in the sixth round by WBO world super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring in Dubai last night.
Frampton, wearing a T-shirt with an image of late amateur coach Billy McKee, announced from the ring that he would be hanging up his gloves having failed in his bid to become the first Irish fighter to win world titles in three weight classes. The former world super-bantam and featherweight champion, stopped for the first time in his career, admitted: "I said before that if I lost this fight I would retire and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
"I want to dedicate my whole career to my wife and my kids. They made so many sacrifices, I’ve been away so long, I’ve missed them growing up, my kids, and want to dedicate my life to my family now.
"I’m deeply upset because I wanted nothing more than to dedicate this fight to my former amateur coach Billy McKee who recently passed away."
Frampton added: "Boxing has been good to me, it’s also been bad to me, but the last few years with Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis have been the best few years of my career. I just want to go home to my wife and kids and dedicate my life to them."
Despite insisting that his preparation could not have been any better, the 34-year-old never showed any of his old magic and was dropped in the fifth round before being floored heavily by a rasping left uppercut midway through the sixth. A further volley of blows led his coach Moore to throw in the towel, signalling the end of his quest to become a three-weight champion.
It was a sad end to what has been an incredible career that captured the imagination of fans at home and in the States, with the Boxing Writers of America and the famous Ring Magazine voting him the 2016 Fighter of the Year.
Frampton stated: "I was beaten by the better man. I struggled to get inside him. He was sharp shooting from distance — he had a perfect game plan and I have zero excuses. I had an amazing camp and I came into this fight to win it and I was just beaten by the better man."
Champion Herring, who like Frampton is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank company, will now look ahead to potential fights with WBC champion Oscar Valdez or the WBO’s No.1 contender, Shakur Stevenson.
While he savoured the biggest victor y of his career, the former US Marine also took time to hail the legacy that Frampton leaves behind.
"Carl has always been one of my favourite fighters and I’m just honoured to have shared the ring with him, he’s a two-divisional champion, a great fighter," said Herring.
"My last outing was not my best and I was called ever y name in the book but even with the cut I wasn’t going to give up or quit.
"Carl Frampton is a tremendous champion and I’ve been a fan of his from day one. It’s tough to see any veteran go out of the sport like that but I’m glad h was able to go out on his feet and I pray he gets home safely."
Round One: A rather cagey opener with both men trying to establish their range. Herring pops out the jab as Frampton feints, but the American lands a good left hook and then a left to the body late. Frampton gets through with a counter but Herring edges the opener.
Verdict: Herring 10-9
Round Two: Frampton ups the pace from the off and pushed Herring back as the action switches to the inside. Herring lands an uppercut off the ropes, but Frampton has much more success and lands a left hook that opens a nasty gash over Herring’s right eye.
Verdict: Frampton 10-9
Round Three: The pace increases as Frampton looks to throw a little more and gets through with a good right, but Herring enjoys more success with a couple of solid lefts to the chin with Frampton at mid-range. Herring beginning to get his timing and takes the round.
Verdict: Herring 10-9
Round four: Herring lands an early left to the body but the Frampton takes it to him and lands a good left but even better right. Body lands to the body and just as it seems Herring is beginning to leek uncomfortable, he lands a hard, counter left that has Frampton down. While not hurt, it is still a major boost for Herring.
Verdict: Herring 10-8
Round five: Herring opens with a trademark left uppercut and pops out his jab. Frampton does begin to get into range and lands a right plus a nice left jab as Herring leaves his chin up, but the better work is coming from the champion who is into a rhythm and is scoring as Frampton steps into range
Verdict: Herring 10-9
Round Six: A untidy start but a left uppercut drops Frampton who is hurt. Bravely, he rises but Herring knows he has the Belfast man hurt and goes for the finish. Another left uppercut has Frampton on unsteady legs as he is left vulnerable for Herring to tee-off and the towel comes in from the corner. It’s over.
Verdict: Herring TKO 1.40
Here's the fight as it happened with Gareth Hanna's live blog: