Former three-time super middleweight world titleholder Markus Beyer died Monday after a brief illness. He was 47.
"Our WBC world champ Markus Beyer has passed away. Massive nights against Richie Woodhall and Danny Green that will stay forever. Too young, too soon," promoters Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, who worked extensively with Beyer during his career, wrote on social media.
Beyer, a southpaw from Germany, was a 1992 and 1996 Olympian and boxed professionally from 1996 to 2008. He won a bronze medal at the 1995 World Amateur Championship.
Beyer (35-3-1, 13 KOs) won his first 168-pound world title by unanimous decision when he traveled to Woodhall's hometown of Telford, England, and dethroned him by unanimous decision in October 1999.
Woodhall tweeted his thoughts after learning of Beyer's death.
Shocked and deeply saddened to hear Markus Beyer has passed away. Any boxer who becomes 3x world champion is very special. A great fighter and gentleman out of ring. RIP my friend Markus. @SauerlandBros @TeamSauerland— Richie Woodhall (@richiewoodhall) December 4, 2018
Beyer made one successful defense before losing the belt by 12th-round knockout to Glenn Catley in 2000.
In 2003, Beyer got another shot at the belt and reclaimed it by split decision over Eric Lucas. He defended the title twice, by fifth-round disqualification against Green and unanimous decision against Andre Thysse, before losing it by split verdict to Cristian Sanavia in 2004.
Later in 2004, Beyer knocked Sanavia out in the sixth round of an immediate rematch to regain the title. During that reign, Beyer made five successful defenses, including decisions over Green in a rematch and Omar Sheika as well as a draw with Sakio Bika.
After the Bika fight, Beyer met Mikkel Kessler in a world title unification fight. He traveled to Kessler's home turf in Copenhagen, Denmark, and suffered a third-round knockout loss in October 2006. Beyer fought once more, winning an eight-round decision in 2008, before retiring.
"I cannot describe my feelings with words," Ulli Wegner, Beyer's former longtime trainer, said, according to Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. "Everybody knows that he was my favorite athlete, and that he had, above all, a human component. Markus Beyer was a thoroughly fine human being. At the moment I feel like someone hit me in the gut."