Matthew Macklin’s hopes of another world title shot were shattered by a 10th round stoppage defeat by Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Dublin.
The Birmingham man was hoping to line up another crack at a middleweight belt, but will find it hard to rebuild after being halted in dramatic fashion.
A string of damaging battles appear to have finally taken their toll on ‘Mack the Knife’, who was gradually grinded down before Heiland signalled the end with a crisp right hand.
Macklin swiftly found his range in the opener, rattling right hands into the ribs of Heiland, who was briefly troubled by the early onslaught.
Heiland had gradually chipped away at the man in front of him, but attempted to rip through his defences in the seventh, unloading crunching right hands, with Macklin offering little in return. The 32-year-old, so used to setting the pace, was spending the rounds in reverse.
Following another sapping stanza, Heiland headed into the ninth with a two-round lead and Macklin tried to stem the tide with a huge right hand, but the fighter from Buenos Aires shrugged it off.
This proved a final stand from Macklin, who was ruthlessly halted in the next. As he edged back to the ropes, Heiland unleashed a lightning left-right combination that sent him crashing down by the ropes.
There was no need for a count, with Macklin in a dazed heap on the canvas, and he could be forced to assess his future after this damaging defeat.
“Maybe I burned off a bit too much energy early on - maybe I’m getting old,” he said. “I don’t know. I’ll have to look back and assess it. He caught me with a nice shot, timed it well, but I felt okay to continue. The ref stopped it. I can’t argue. I was tiring at that stage. You’ve got to give him credit. He stepped up well, he was the younger fresher man," Macklin said.
“He fought a smart fight and when he upped it I wasn’t able to and that was probably the difference. That’s a fight that I thought I’d definitely need to be winning if I thought I was as good as I was. So I have to look at the performance.
“There were a few things in the build up but I’ve no excuses really. I was fit, I was in shape, I had decent sparring, so I’ll have to analyze the performance. I’m getting on. I’m not old, but I will have to have a look and see where we go from here. I don’t want to make any hasty decisions - but certainly at my best I believe I’m world class, capable of winning world titles.”