Warren Baister has called time on an illustrious boxing career.
The talented 32-year-old looked on the verge of a challenge for cruiserweight championship honours only to be forced to retire with a persistent foot injury.
Undefeated as a professional, the Sunderland star said it was frustrating to be beaten by injury, but leaves the hardest of sports with his head held high.
Baister, who won all seven of his pro fights, admitted a long-term issue with his right foot would not go away.
“The injury has been lingering for a long time to be honest,” explained the exciting fighter, who trained under David Binns at the East Durham College gym in Peterlee.
“It’s no secret I had surgery on it back in 2012 and it had been OK for most of the time since then.
“But last year I was boxing on the undercard of an Anthony Crolla world title fight in Manchester.
“I don’t know how it’s happened, I’m not sure if I’ve twisted it, but it’s gone again.
“I was out for 10 months before coming back this year with three bouts, but it’s never been right and over the last few weeks I’ve felt it get worse.
“I could have continued but I was running the risk of causing irreversible damage and needing more surgery.
“I gave it 100% but my body has let me down, there wasn’t really anything else I could have done.
“I’ve discussed it with my coach, Dave Binns, and my family and friends.
“All good things come to an end sadly but I know it’s the right decision.”
Baister looked destined for a tilt at one of the cruiserweight titles later this year or early next year.
Back in June, Eddie Hearn, one of the sports leading promoters, had told the Echo of his desire of staging a high-profile derby with Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily.
Both North-East boxers had won on the Sky Sports-screened show at Newcastle, where Baister had stopped Imantas Davidaitis.
However, his seventh straight win – and his fifth inside the distance – would be his last.
Such has been Baister’s ruthless performances, his pro career has only consisted of 15 rounds.
But with title bouts staged over 12 rounds, an intense and sustained build-up would be required and the former Sunderland ABC star explained his foot would not stand up to the strain.
“When you’re having to rest it so often, it would affect the training camp,” he said.
“If I’d carried on I’d be walking into the ring 50% fit.
“That could not work.”
Baister admitted he’d been told he was on borrowed time after the original op back in 2012.
“I was fortunate to get back in the ring after that,” he said. “The re-hab took nearly a year.
“If I’d given it a go now and tried to carry on, the chances were I would need surgery again and it would take a year to come back with no guarantee of success.
“I work as a joiner and need to get about for my day job and I need to be on my feet all the time.”
Before his seven-fight pro career, Baister was one of Great Britain’s leading amateur stars.
He did not make it to the Olympics, but represented his country at the Commonwealth Games, European and World Championships.
“I’m very pleased with what I’ve done,” said the 2011 GB champion. “I was a relatively late starter and if I was to change anything I think I would have begun boxing earlier.
“Other than that maybe, I’ve got no regrets.
“I’ve boxed the very best in my career and I can go out with my head held high.”