Standing outside the changing room as an emotional Shane Cameron prepared for another repair job on his battered face, it wasn't the time or place to talk retirement.
But last night's crippling one-sided seventh round TKO loss to American brawler Brain Minto seems the logical end of the road
Sure, the prospect of a squaring off against rising Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker remains a lucrative possibility. But after taking on South American champion George Arias in March, Parker's path may now lead to Minto, who has now been promised two more fights in New Zealand next year.
With his first son due in January, Cameron will realise there is more to life than boxing. He has already taken some serious punishment. That's the nature of his style and this sport.
Unlike others, though, the 36-year-old has options. A successful business - a gym on Auckland's North Shore - his long-term health and family will now be strong considerations.
It's not for you, I, or anyone else to say this is it.
Only Cameron can call time on his 33 fight pro career that's now featured four losses. Coming to grips with such a chapter-closing decision is brutal for any sportsman. None more so than in this lonesome, individual combat arena where the fire must burn deep within.
After being at his side for the best part of a decade, manager Ken Reinsfield hinted this could be the end.
While Cameron received stitches on two cuts - one opened by Minto's powerful hooks, one from his illegal elbow in the fifth round - Reinsfield attempted to covey the feelings of his fighter while, for now at least, doing his best to avoid the retirement subject.
"It's gut-wrenching to be honest," Reinsfield said. "I love that guy like a brother. It's really hard to watch.
"We've got to sit down and have a chat about the future. I know he still loves the game. It's very hard to have that conversation right after a brutal fight like that. We'll probably have that chat in a few days when the dust settles and you can think clearly, not when you're emotional.
"We'll take it one day at a time. He's got a baby on the way. That's the focus.
"He's had 33 pro fights and a lot of tough ones. He's certainly done a lot for boxing in New Zealand. He's been ranked sixth in the world as a heavyweight and fought for a world title at cruiserweight. He deserves to be up there with the best in the country."
Saying enough wasn't a hard call for Reinsfield. He recently presided over Daniel MacKinnon's defeat to Robbie Berridge. That bloody battle saw MacKinnon dye for 40 seconds and need surgery to stop a bleed on the brain.
So with Cameron bleeding profusely from the third round onwards - as he's done countless times throughout his career - unable to see and protect himself, Reinsfield knew there was only one option.
"He wanted to keep going but they put their trust in the corner to make the decision for them," he said. "I've been through some really bad stuff in recent times. I don't want to see that happen again. If a guy can't see it's hard for him to defend himself."
An awkward spoiling fighter to counter, Minto didn't present any surprises. He was just better than Cameron's camp expected. Much better.
"He did exactly what we thought he'd do but he was very good at smothering, better than we anticipated," Reinsfield said.
"At the end of the day we selected him. Brain Minto is no mug. He's a world ranked fighter and Shane needs to beat these guys to get that next shot. He could take another year or two battling away taking fights, but he decided to have a crack at a tough one and it didn't work out for him. He still fought like a Warrior."
- Fairfax Media
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