By Shaun Brown
John Murray’s departure from Joe Gallagher’s stable in September raised eyebrows, debates and concerns. Last week’s news that the long term partnership had been reunited was met by many with relief and surprise, especially given the briefness of their break-up.
“At the end of the day it’s not like I was gonna say no to the lad,” said Gallagher when asked if it was an easy decision to work with him again. “Fighters come and join me quite frequently and some go, it swings in both ways.”
“John Murray contacted me when I was the weigh-in for (Scott) Quigg’s last fight. I got a text asking if we could have a chat. He just told me that it wouldn’t feel comfortable without me going into a world title fight. I thought it was a wind-up! But I told John, about coming back to me, it’s up to you to put it out there. You can do all the sound bites,” he revealed.
Now with the kiss and make-up complete both men can now fully concentrate their efforts into dethroning WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios on Dec 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In the wake of recent defeats to Brits abroad such as Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes and Darren Barker, the 26-year-old challenger may be going in as big an underdog as his defeated compatriots were but Murray’s number of air miles should ensure he doesn’t freeze on the big occasion.
“If they (Team Rios) think he’s going to be like a rabbit in the headlights he won’t be,” declared Gallagher.
“John’s used to fighting abroad. So in that sense all boxes are ticked. He’s fought on the undercard of De La Hoya v Mayweather; he’s been around big fights and big shows. Guys like (Michael) Jennings (who fought Miguel Cotto) and (Gary) Lockett (who fought Kelly Pavlik) went over there really without the experience of fighting on big shows.”
A trip to the Big Apple for a shot at one of the sport’s biggest rising stars will cap off another memorable year for Gallagher. Title success, title defeats, the progress of rising stars and more fighters joining up mean that sometimes, even when the chips are down, there’s always another fight or fighter round the corner for the 42-year-old.
“Having such a busy gym I didn’t have time to sit and dwell,” said Joe when turning his thoughts back to when Murray originally left.
“At home, when I had time to think, it hurt me a little bit. When it happened I didn’t have time to rest on my laurels. When (Matthew) Macklin lost in Germany that was my Hatton/Graham moment because when Ricky lost to Mayweather, Billy went missing for a few days in Vegas.”
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, I won’t deny it got me down sometimes but when you’re in the gym you can’t think. Although it was little bit awkward for his brother Joe, because I was still training him.”
With so much to look forward to for many of his fighters in the coming weeks it’s easy to understand why Gallagher’s gym is thriving right now. Despite the defeats to Macklin and (Stephen) Smith there has been the triumphs for Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla and this Saturday night Paul Smith looks to regain his British title against George Groves.
“The gym’s absolutely buzzing and there’s probably been a bit too much banter lately which I’ll have to sort out,” he laughed. “Scott Quigg came in on Monday after his fight (with Jason Booth) with his new title and he’ll be back training again very soon.”
Matters though soon turned to a slight niggle with Sky Television.
“We were all discussing how it’s amazing that when Stephen Smith lost to Lee Selby, Sky TV were quick to get in to the changing room to ask about the defeat and all that. But they never bothered to go into Quigg’s when he won.”
“We’ve developed a bit of a siege mentality at the gym – us against them. We have lads from the gym in the corner when others fight; John Murray, Crolla and Macklin all have their corner licences. Everyone backs each other – we’re all in this together.”