David Haye's dream of ultimate heavyweight glory ended in frustrating disappointment in the rain in Hamburg.
The WBA world champion lost his title as he failed to live up to his pre-fight boasting - dismissed by his opponent as trashtalking - and left thousands of his travelling fans upset by a lacklustre performance against Wladimir Klitschko, who comfortably held on to his three titles with a unanimous points victory.
Haye later blamed a broken toe for his defeat, saying: 'I might not have been at my best but I gave it as much as I could. I couldn't push on my right leg. Something happened in training and I didn't want to pull out.
Belt up, Haye: Wladimir Klitschko celebrates after comfortably seeing off the Briton's challenge
Early blow: David Haye hits Wladimir Klitschko in the first round
No response: Wladimir Klitschko lands another shot on David Haye
Down but not out: Klitschko was eventually penalised for pushing Haye to the ground
Too good: Wladimir Klitschko gets David Haye in the corner
During the first largely unimpressive six rounds, Haye was down four times but all were as a result of slips or stumbles, which referee Rodriguez ruled were not knockdowns.
Against expectations there was very little clinching or holding with the fight being conducted almost entirely at long range, which seemed to be to Klitschko's advantage.
The prediction by Haye's trainer, Adam Booth, that we would see something different to the stodgy points win over Valuev appeared to be no more than a ruse, as Haye repeatedly danced out of trouble, but did not throw enough punches. By halfway he was well behind.
Going down: Kiltschko wrestles Haye to the ground
Dr. Steelhammer: David Haye lost a points decision in Hamburg to Wladimir Klitschko
But Haye was forced to take a standing eight count. Needing a big last round, Haye could deliver only one piercing right hand to trouble Klitschko.
He simply could not get close enough to the bigger man.
At the final bell, both men raised their fists in triumph but neither had produced the fireworks expected.