By Terence Dooley
Matchroom’s “Christmas Cracker” show lost a bit of its pop earlier today when it was confirmed that John Murray had failed the BBBoC’s pre-fight medical ahead of his make-or-break showdown with British rival Gavin Rees. The lightweights were due to collide on the December 8 show, which takes place at London’s Olympia venue, but news of Murray’s withdrawal on medical grounds has left boxing fans disappointed.
Still, the presence of Darren Barker, who takes on Kerry Hope, and the prospect of a war between Lee Purdy and Carson Jones means that there is still plenty for the London fans to get their teeth into come the night. The loss of Murray versus Rees also frees up space for another big fight.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose the Rees vs. Murray fight but as always, boxers’ safety is paramount,” said Eddie Hearn, the show’s promoter. “For Gavin we will now make the WBA title fight with Richard Abril for early 2013. We are delighted to add [John] Ryder vs [Eamon] O'Kane [a 10-threes contest] it's unusual for two unbeaten prospects to put it all on the line and I take my hat off to them. We will also announce one further fight this week for the 11 fight Olympia card.”
Murray revealed to BoxingScene that his medical results are in the process of being sent through to his GP and that he will know more in the coming days. However, he laughed off the rumors that he had in fact failed one of the Board’s check weigh-ins and that this was the real reason for the BBBoC’s decision.
“I’m just waiting for the results to get to the doctor so I can go and see him about when I can box again,” said Murray. “I am really disappointed because I smashed training for this one. This is the first time I’ve done the diet [nutritionist] Kerry [Kayes] set out without a little bit of cheating — I had sneaked in the odd KFC in the past — and I was doing everything properly.
“I was on it, listening to Kerry’s advice and working hard with [new trainer] Mike [Marsden]. I have lived like a proper professional for once, and I felt I’d do a number on Rees to show this, but I’ve had this news and it is a real gutter. I’ll see the doctor, stay in training and get on it again for early next year if Gavin’s still available.”
Ironically, Salford’s Jamie Moore, like Murray a former British and European champion, opted to retire following a slight change to his brain scan in 2010, but there have been cases of fighters failing medicals in the past only to pass their next examination.
In Murray’s case, the 27-year-old only recently returned to full-time training following back-to-back stoppage defeats in 2011 — losing in seven and 11 rounds to Kevin Mitchell and Brandon Rios respectively — and the 31-2 (18) contender hopes this failed medical is a case of ‘better safe than sorry’. Murray plans on having a big 2013, providing he is passed fit for future fights.
“That’s it,” said Murray when reminded that he had only recently returned to training, and sparring, after a torrid 2011. “It is a precaution, so hopefully it is nothing too bad. I’ll stay in training over Christmas and will be raring to go for early next year. Best of luck to Gavin, he might have moved on by then, but if he hasn’t then we should definitely get it on for the British fans. I’d love to fight Gavin, he’s a great fighter, so hopefully it can still happen.”
Please send news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Terryboxing.