Canadian boxer Troy Ross once again knocked loudly at the door of opportunity on Saturday night, but couldn't bust through.
Ross lost a close but unanimous decision to defending International Boxing Federation titleholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez in a 12-round cruiserweight bout in Bayern, Germany. Scores were 114-113, 115-112, 116-112.
The fight was in many ways a microcosm of the 37-year-old Brampton, Ont., native's career. There was impressive displays of speed and power, inactivity, inconsistency, and bad breaks, particularly in the way of officiating.
This wasn't the first time Ross fell short in a title try in Germany. In 2010, he decked American Steve Cunningham but soon after suffered a bad cut at the corner of his eye. The cut appeared due to a thumbing, but Ross lost by a fifth-round stoppage.
He had fought just twice since then prior to Saturday's bout.
As a result, it wasn't surprising that he appeared rusty in the first round, easily taken by belt holder. Ross picked up the pace in the second round with good body work and a left hand that would find favour often in the bout.
Ross clearly captured the third round, shaking Hernandez with his power shots.
Hernandez (27-1, 13 knockouts) defeated Cunningham for the title in 2011. Born in Cuba, he is represented by German-based Sauerland Promotions.
After another debatable stanza in the fourth, Ross dominated the fifth. He dropped Hernandez, who wobbled for most of the rest of the round and grappled Ross tightly whenever he could.
The hometown fighter also turned his back on Ross, a no-no in boxing terms, and on another occasion fell to the ground of his own accord, clearly looking for a breather.
The referee obliged, buying Hernandez precious seconds.
Ross did not help his own cause by taking the sixth off. Perhaps he had expended too much energy in the previous round, but given the fact he was fighting on the road, it wasn't advisable that he didn't fight at a blistering pace in the seventh, either.
The eighth was one of about four rounds in the bout where a case could be made for each man.
The ninth was simply one of the most entertaining rounds in boxing this year, with both men shaken.
After a pedestrian tenth, Ross clearly outhustled Hernandez in the last two rounds. Hernandez again fell to the canvas out of exhaustion in the 11th, correctly ruled s a slip.
Ross turned pro in 2001 after an impressive amateur career in which he represented Canada at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
He fell to 25-3-1, with 16 KO's.