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British middleweight Matthew Macklin, 33, announces retirement

British middleweight Matthew Macklin, a longtime contender who three times challenged for a world title, announced he is retiring from the ring at the age of 33.

Macklin won his last fight, a majority decision against Brian Rose on April 9, but in the midst of that tough battle he said he knew it was time to call it a day.

"Last month, at the O2 Arena in London, around the halfway point in my fight with Brian Rose, I knew it was time to retire," Macklin said. "My face was marking up; I was getting frustrated at not being able to land my shots, and I knew that physically, after a long career, my body was telling me that enough was enough.

"I also knew that I didn't want to go out like that, so with the help of my brother Seamus I decided to end my career on my terms and pulled the win out of the bag in the last few rounds. Deep down, I came to the realization on the night that it was probably going to be my last fight. I turn 34 (on Saturday) and, after much reflection, I have decided that following 24 years in the sport, over 80 amateur fights and 41 professional fights, it is time to hang up my gloves."

Macklin (35-6, 22 KOs), an Irishman from Birmingham, England, turned pro in 2001 and eventually won the British and European middleweight titles.

But he came up short in three world title opportunities He lost a split decision in Germany to Felix Sturm in a very controversial 2011 fight that most thought Macklin won with ease, including the German television broadcasters in Sturm's home country. In 2012, he dropped Sergio Martinez but wound up getting stopped in the 11th round in New York. And in 2014, Gennady Golovkin drilled Macklin with a rib-cracking body shot in the third round.

After a 10th-round knockout loss to contender Jorge Sebastian Heiland in 2014, Macklin talked about retirement but elected to fight on and won his next four fights before announcing that he is done.

"Fifteen years is a long time in professional boxing, and for me, it has been a real roller-coaster journey," Macklin said. "I've had a great career but I know that now is the right time to bow out. I'm not the fighter I once was. Father Time catches up with us all eventually. I never wanted to do things the easy way or to be a big fish in a small pond. I wanted to know how good I was and test myself against the very best the sport had to offer, and I can proudly say I did that.

"I fought Sturm, Sergio Martinez and the best of them all, Gennady Golovkin. Most importantly, I fought them all in their primes. While I'm very grateful that boxing gave me such wonderful moments, it's a sport that demands a lot of sacrifice. You miss out on a lot of things, so I'm excited to move on to the next phase of my life now. I'm happy with how I finished the Rose fight and conducted myself throughout my career.

"I'm proud of what I achieved, from winning national titles and a senior ABA title as an 18-year-old in the amateurs to winning Irish and British titles and becoming a two-time European champion as a professional. Sadly, I never managed to get my hands on that elusive world title but I should have done that night in Cologne (Germany) in 2011. I believe I was very unlucky to be on the wrong side of a bad decision to Felix Sturm."

Macklin cited his performance against Sturm and his fight with Martinez at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on St. Patrick's Day as career highlights.

"There have be so many great nights, but I think the Sturm fight in 2011 -- leaving aside the judges' decision -- was probably the best," he said. "I had announced myself on the world scene in a great fight against one of the longest-serving world champions in the sport, and although we didn't get the decision, we celebrated anyway because we knew who won the fight, and so did they.

"Another highlight has to be fighting future Hall of Famer, and then one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Sergio Martinez at the famous Madison Square Garden in 2012. The fact that it was St. Patrick's Day made it all the more special, and I must admit to smiling hugely when I saw the HBO billboard in Times Square."

Macklin said he appreciated the various promoters and others who helped him throughout his career, but concluded by thanking the fans.

"Finally, I want to thank all the fans that watched me and supported me throughout the years, many of them traveling far and wide to do so," he said. "Without you, there would have been no journey. Thank you."