St Helens middleweight Martin Murray dealt WBC champion Sergio Martinez an almighty scare before ending up on the wrong side of a unanimous points decision in Buenos Aires. All three ringside judges plumped for the home favorite by identical margins of 115-112 despite him being floored by his 30-year-old foe in round eight.
Martinez found himself on a canvas made greasy by incessant rain once more two rounds later but referee Massimo Barrovecchio ruled a slip, somewhat generously in light of the left-hook and glancing right-hand landed by Murray.
As in his world-title draw against Felix Sturm in December 2011, Murray (25 wins, one defeat, one draw) emerges with his reputation enhanced regardless of a first professional loss - domestic clashes with former Martinez victims Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin hopefully loom.
The quality of a truly great champion was in evidence over the final two rounds as Martinez (51-2-2) made sure of the win but he is unlikely to relish many more such gruelling examinations at 38 years of age.
Martinez, who was greeted by a spectacular fireworks display and a fervent crowd in excess of 40,000 inside the Estadio Jose Amalfitani, set an impressive tempo in the opener, attacking predominantly to the body as Murray operated behind a tight guard.