MARTIN Murray's hopes of marching into the new year with another crack at the world title were shattered in a close contest in Manchester tonight.

The St Helens middleweight suffered a surprise defeat against former World Champion Hassan N'Dam, losing his WBC silver belt with the judges ruling the contest 114-114, 117-112, 116-112.

The defeat could spell the end for the 36-year-old's career - and he will have much to think over.

Murray had told the Star in the build up that it had taken him two-and-half years to rebuild his career after his last defeat and would not go through that process again and was "one loss away from retirement."