Kell Brook finds Gennady Golovkin a leap too far
The end was chillingly methodical, like watching a back-street surgeon at work. Crash. Back up. Admire the butchery. "Hmmm, still not done. Never mind all the blood and that busted eye, pass me another blunt instrument…"
It was also macabrely surreal. As blows rained down upon his stricken charge, trainer Dominic Ingle stood politely waving the white towel, like a diner waving a napkin to get the attention of a waiter.
For several seconds, the referee seemed transfixed. So might you, if you witnessed such butchery up close.
When Ingle finally remembered boxing convention and threw the towel into the ring, the sound of Gennady Golovkin's blunt instruments hitting various parts of Kell Brook's body - like the frenzied bashing of a bass drum - gave way to boos.
When the referee waved it off, Brook looked like he wanted to join in.
But Ingle's intervention in the fifth round wasn't a moment too soon. Busted eye, seeing four Golovkins when one was too many, Brook had taken more than enough.
Ingle knows his fighter better than anyone. They took the risk, banked the millions, gave it their best shot and came up short. "Let's live to fight another day."
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"I expected him to be a bigger puncher," said Brook, before being taken to hospital to have his broken eye socket checked out. He sounded like The Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Tis but a scratch. I've had worse..."
Golovkin sounded equally disingenuous when he claimed Brook did nothing more than "touch" him before the stoppage came.
In truth, it is difficult to remember anyone landing on Golovkin so regularly and crisply, even if Brook never appeared close to inflicting his first knockdown.
Even Golovkin's suggestion that Brook "is not a middleweight" is arguable. Despite jumping two weight divisions to challenge Golovkin for his WBC and IBF titles, the Sheffield fighter gave him more problems than most.
Certainly, Brook could beat a lot of top middleweights out there, just not Golovkin.
That said, expect Brook to vacate his IBF welterweight title and step up to light-middleweight, where he is likely to be at his most effective - not killing himself to make weight, but still packing plenty of power and staying nice and nasty.
A match against the winner of next Saturday's fight between Liverpool's Liam Smith and Mexico's Saul Alvarez seems to make sense.
Smith is defending his WBO light-middleweight title in Texas but is a big underdog. If he gets blown away by Alvarez, Brook might decide it makes less sense than he thought.
After seeing off Brook's cross-Pennine rival Amir Khan in May (Khan having also jumped from welterweight to middleweight), Alvarez vacated the WBC middleweight title rather than face Golovkin, to universal scorn.
But having seen Brook ask a few questions of Golovkin, Alvarez might now be tempted.
However, while Golovkin-Alvarez might have moved a little closer, a potential match-up between Golovkin and Andre Ward looks further away than ever.
Former super-middleweight king Ward moves better than anyone. He has also moved up to light-heavyweight and is preparing to challenge Sergey Kovalev for the Russian's WBA, IBF and WBO belts.
Golovkin, meanwhile, rarely weighs more than 170lb between fights, 5lb below the light-heavyweight limit. It might just be one of those maddening super-fights that we never get to see.
And who could really blame Golovkin for not wanting to step up? He has just seen from close range how difficult it is to bridge a stone in weight at the elite level.
And while boxers who have jumped straight from welterweight to win a middleweight world title are rare, boxers who have jumped straight from middleweight to win a light-heavyweight world title are even rarer.
The legendary Sugar Ray Robinson tried it and failed, while Argentine great Carlos Monzon and American great Marvin Hagler never even considered it. The only man to have managed it was Nigeria's Dick Tiger in 1966, and the 168lb super-middleweight division did not exist back then.
Ironically, in Tiger's previous bout he lost his middleweight title to Emile Griffith, the last man to jump straight from welterweight to win a world title at 160lb.
All this jumping around is getting exhausting. Let's get back to Golovkin, a man who doesn't really do jumping, even when he's winning.
After his evening's exertions, Golovkin sounded suitably dispassionate. Like a psychopathic back-street surgeon, perhaps, on being questioned by police.
The relentless stalking, all that crashing and bashing, all the blood and that broken eye socket, it was nothing really. Bring out another one and let's see if I can do a better job on him.
As Golovkin put it, while flashing that goofy grin of his: "I wanted to bring a drama show. But I wasn't good. I just broke him."
Chris Eubank Jr had been on Twitter already, proclaiming "my corner don't own towels". Unfortunately, his corner does have his dad in it, which is why a proposed match against Golovkin fell through and Brook fought him instead.
Golovkin said he would prefer a unification match against Britain's WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, who beat Eubank Jr in 2014 but hasn't fought since defending his title against Ireland's Andy Lee last December. When Saunders took to Twitter, he called Golovkin 'Borat'. Strange game, boxing.
But let's forget the trash-talk and consider what we've just witnessed - a British boxer as brave as a lion and a chillingly methodical boxer from Kazakhstan wielding the bluntest of instruments.
It's an image that will take a while to shift.