Shane Cameron might have lost more than his fight for the WBO Oriental heavyweight title to Brian Minto last night; his career might have ended with it.
Cameron suffered a technical knock-out before the start of the eighth round due to a cut inflicted above his right eye. His corner called off the bout. The cut has been troublesome before - Cameron's even had plastic surgery to grind away some of the sharper bone - but it returned to haunt him.
It was 36-year-old Cameron's fourth loss in 30 professional fights; it was 38-year-old Minto's 39th win in 46.
Minto, who's under the tutelage of Kevin Barry, swarmed in close to Cameron and peppered the vulnerable skin until it took its toll.
Visiting a fight night always reinforces how unforgiving three minutes is. Cameron had to deal with a full 1260 seconds distant run over the seven rounds.
He delivered his share of brutality back at an elusive Minto but the American was workmanlike and repetitive in his work on Cameron's face. Sideways glances were cast when he appeared to elbow the Mountain Warrior's mug in the fifth round. He lost a point. He lost another in the following round for a headbutt but both instances wouldn't have influenced the result.
Cameron's guard slipped further as the bout wore on, like one of those Guess Who pictures that reveal the candidate's face piece-by-piece. The persistent jabbing must have tortured the Kiwi; the crowd witnessed a gruelling slow-mo between rounds as the blows rained on Cameron's face as if it was a reverberating rubber mask. Cameron clinched to save himself.
An increasingly boisterous crowd started to heckle: "C'mon Cameron", "Smash him", "What are ya". Police loomed at the door.
Cameron was never lacking courage. As he said: "It was a bad night at the office. The cuts made it difficult to see".
He couldn't give a verdict on his future.
"I'll have a good break and focus on my fitness business."
His trainer Ken Reinsfield was pensive in the corridor afterwards.
"He's such a warrior, but if you can't see, you can't defend yourself.
"He still loves the game but it's hard to have the [retirement] conversation after such a brutal fight. We'll have it in a few days when we're thinking clearer. This is gut-wrenching. I love that guy like a brother. It was hard to watch. Unfortunately that cut above the eye was an old one. He's always had trouble with his skin.
"[Minto] used all the advantages he could. He fought to his strengths and won. He was a good smotherer, better than anticipated."
"I think that was the wrong fight [for Cameron] to come back to after a year off," Minto said.
"He ain't getting better, he's taking blows every fight, he's got a baby coming and he's been successful in the sport, so maybe it's time to find something else. He doesn't want to end up with a brain injury."
Minto said his elbow to Cameron's head was unintentional: "I was trying to get on the inside and create room."
"Shane's grabbing and holding made Brian get in closer to free his hands and be more aggressive," said Minto's trainer Barry.
"I thought Shane would box more than he did. They eventually just traded punches which is Brian's type of fight."
Minto indicated he'd be keen to fight Joseph Parker in future.
"If there's a good, solid retirement fund waiting for me then I'm in."