Anthony Mundine has called time - once again - on his celebrated and controversial sporting career following an inglorious first-round knockout loss to Michael Zerafa.
Desperate for a showdown with budding boxing superstar Tim Tszyu, Zerafa sent Mundine to the canvas with a series of heavy blows to claim the WBO Oceania middleweight title in Bendigo on Saturday night.
Now 45 and, in his own words, a shadow of the sporting super talent who turned NSW State of Origin rugby league star into a world boxing champion, Mundine conceded he was finally done.
"Definitely, definitely," he said.
"Win, lose or draw, even if I won, I still would have hung them up.
"I just haven't got the heart anymore to do it.
"God's given me great talent, both in rugby league and boxing. I'm not the fighter I was five years ago, a year ago or 10 years ago.
"But I've achieved a lot in my time."
Concerned for his health, boxing greats including Jeff Fenech had urged Mundine not to fight Zerafa - and "The Man" himself was grateful to escape the ring alive after copping two brutal blows to his already battered head.
"Thank God I'm healthy," he said.
"But, unfortunately, I got caught in the first round. It happens in boxing.
"Hopefully Michael can go on and be a success and reach all his dreams.
"He's wanted to fight me when he was 15. Lucky he got me when I was 45, not 35."
A legend himself, Mundine's trainer-father Tony, a four-division Australian champion and world middleweight challenger, also privately feared for Mundine's future wellbeing.
Zerafa, though, was over the moon to finally get a shot at his boyhood idol, then live out his dream by winning.
"Feeling electric. This is a legacy fight for me: 15 years I've been waiting for this moment and I've delivered," Zerafa said.
"A huge thank you to the Mundine team for the opportunity."
Despite polarising Australians for more than two decades with his motor-mouth and divisive comments about rivals and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, Mundine's sporting prowess cannot be questioned.
He should go down as one of the country's all-time sporting greats.
"Anthony, nothing but love and respect, brother," Zerafa said.
"You're the person to put this sport on the map, brother: the best ever to lace up in Australian boxing.
"It's my time. I told you, you passed the torch and now it's time Tim Tszyu - excuse my French - but stop f***ing running."
"It's time to fight."
After dismissing Zerafa's advances last December following his own first-round knockout win over New Zealander Bowyn Morgan, Tszyu will take on Irishman Dennis Hogan in a world super welterweight title eliminator on March 31 in Newcastle.
Australian Associated Press