By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
JOHN MURRAY is ready to turn his dream into reality by taking over the throne vacated by Ricky Hatton.
Manchester fighter John Murray, 26, meets east London bruiser Kevin Mitchell for the vacant WBO intercontinental lightweight title at the Liverpool Echo Arena tonight.
It’s Murray’s big opportunity to burst on to the world scene after compiling a professional record of 31 straight wins.
And if he can do that, he believes that he can take a major step towards filling the void left by his recently- retired pal Ricky Hatton.
He said: “I’ve always been referred to as ‘the next Ricky Hatton’ and now this is a great chance for me to take a step nearer to doing just that.
“Like Ricky, I am a massive Manchester City fan and always wear their colours on my shorts.
“Now I would just love to follow in his footsteps.”
Victory would earn Murray a shot at WBA world champion Brandon Rios in a bout that would catapult him right into the public eye.
He said: “That’s the opportunity I have been looking for and I know I can make the most of it and follow in Ricky’s footsteps.
“He was the people’s champion, especially in Manchester, and I can do exactly the same with a bit of luck.”
In the top-of-the-bill fight, Nicky Cook challenges Scotland’s WBO super-featherweight champion Ricky Burns.
And Cook, 31, thinks there will be a London double, with his fellow east Londoner Mitchell coming out on top in his fight with Murray.
He said: “I know I have the beating of Burns.
“In addition, I am sure that Kevin can get the better of John Murray.
“It will be great for us to head back to London with victories under our belts.
“I fancy Kevin’s chances and there is only one winner in my fight, as far as I am concerned.”
Mitchell said: “I am sure we can both do it.
“I haven’t fought since losing to Michael Katsidis last May and I am raring to go.”
Mitchell, 26, has had actor and fellow East Ender Danny Dyer cheering him along in gym sessions lately with both sharing the same passion for West Ham.
Dyer said: “As Hammers fans, we both know all about losing!
“I was devastated for Kev when he lost to Katsidis at Upton Park but he has all the guts and determination to get right back.”
Scot Burns, 28, is equally confident of successfully defending his WBO belt for the third time.
He said: “I intend to fight at world level for as long as possible.
“I want to beat the best and cement my name in the history books.”
PREDICTIONS: I think Cook will push Burns all the way but I’m expecting the champion to shade it on points, with Murray getting the judges’ vote in his battle with Mitchell.BOXING: Murray vows to match his mate Hatton