MARTIN Murray has lost his WBO World Super-Middleweight title fight against champion Arthur Abraham on a split decision.

The Fingerpost fighter gave it his all against the vastly experienced German at the TUI Arena, Hannover, but two judges ruled it 115-112, 116-111 to the champ with the other giving it 115-112 to Murray.

Murray started the better of the fighters and worked hard throughout, but the wily champion began to get a firm grip of the fight from round six and began to dominate the latter middle rounds.

A round 11 point deduction for holding, after a series of complaints from the champion, also took the sting out of Murray as he rallied late in the fight.

At the final bell Murray and his team clearly thought he had done enough to nick the belt, but the judges had other ideas.

Murray was the busier of the two in the opening three rounds but found Abraham’s high guard pretty impenetrable throughout.

He did, however, get through with the occasional left hook to the body and early on was able to keep the champion at bay when he tried to go to work in his traditionally powerful one-minute bursts.

A low blow from the challenger was in round three was milked by Abraham, but Murray came out strongly again in round four and managed to neutralise the threat of the powerful champ when he wanted to go to work.

Murray's team had picked up on the German's style of fighting in bursts and it seemed as though he had the strategy to deal with that.

But the tactic of holding on soon began to test the crowd’s, Abraham’s and ultimately the referee’s patience.

By round five Abraham’s jab began to find its target and the smart champion was able to get on the front foot a lot more.

The two fighters both had success in round six, with Murray getting some hooks to the body and landing a good right hand only for Abraham to find the target with a big right hand of his own.

Abraham was fully into his groove by round seven and looked stronger with a body shot and then a right hurting Murray.

However, come round eight, the 33-year-old challenger dug deep and produced the shot of the fight to rattle the Armenian-born Berliner.

Unfortunately Murray was not able to follow that up and strike while his opponent was troubled with the streetwise champion showing why he has defended this title successfully eight times now.

It did show that Murray could hurt the champion, but there was not enough in those next rounds to really trouble him – as hard as he worked.

Although by no means guaranteed the champion probably sensed that he was going to get past what was a tough hurdle for him, keeping alive his dream to unify the belts at super-middleweight.

And he knew how to deal with the latter rounds, and although Murray started round 11 well the point deduction for repeated holding came at a time to completely take the sting out of his challenge.

It also gave the champ the impetus to really attack that penultimate round.

The Fingerpost fighter threw caution to the wind in the final round and although walked on to a few shots, he also found a way through and showed the guts we have come to know in three previous challenges.

But, alas, he was not able to persuade two of the three American judges and so his dream remains unfulfilled.

After drawing one and losing two of his challenges at middleweight against Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin respectively, this latest failure to grab the belt will be a bitter disappointment for Murray, who had bounced into the fight confidently after expressing how much more comfortably he had found his new division.

Murray, who stepped up to super middleweight after the Golovkin fight in February when he signed up with Matchroom, had three easy stoppage wins at 168lbs ahead of this fight.

The closeness of this challenge and the cluster of quality British super middleweights will mean that Murray will still be up there with high profile fights going forward.