By Terence Dooley
John Murray contacted BoxingScene.com to share his frustration over Kevin Mitchell's apparent refusal to sign on the dotted line for an April 2nd EBU title showdown at London's Wembley Arena. Mitchell talked up the contest as recently as last Thursday; the Dagenham-based boxer has since revealed that the fight is a no-go, putting the postponement down to 'politics'.
Murray is a fully paid up member of the Let's Hit Each Other Until We Reach A General Consensus Party, telling me that, “I was informed that Kevin wanted it and I couldn't wait just to get out there and fight. Then I hear on Sunday that the fight is off. It is a great fight for the British public and one that I was eager to take.”
The 30-0 (18) fighter feels that the contest presented Mitchell, 31-1 (23), with a means of forcing his way up the world title ladder. “I'm ranked higher than Mitchell and I'm the European champion,” insisted Murray.
“Kevin had his opportunity to fight for the WBO world title against Michael Katsidis last May. There was no talk from Kevin of fighting me back then because he was highly ranked. He said he wanted to win the title and then fight me but he lost against Katsidis, has been missing in action since. Now he's turning down a domestic match against a European champion who out-ranks him.
Indeed, Murray feels that he has been unfairly painted as a fighter who is not willing to grab opportunity with both hands, claiming that he was always willing and ready for showdowns against the likes of Mitchell, Amir Khan and Breidis Prescott.
“I've had enough stick in my career with people saying I've not taken fights against Khan or Prescott but I offered my services to step up in weight and fight Amir Khan recently and they turned me down. Now I've put my name down to fight Kevin and he's turned the job down,” blasted Murray.
“I came to Frank [Warren] because he's got the history of getting big title fights. If Kevin decides that he's coming back some day he might find that he'll have to wait in turn because I could be world champion by the time that happens at this rate. I have shown that I am not ducking anyone. I want to move on and that will mean Kevin getting left behind.
“Frank delivered a big domestic showdown and I kept my end of the bargain so I'm happy with that. I recently watched The Fighter and it wouldn't have been the same film if Mickey Ward had turned down his fight with Shea Neary just because he had a lot going on in his life. That is part of the game, you just have to stay in the gym and make sure you're ready if the call comes.
“Fights like this have a limited shelf life. Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter only made sense for a small period of time before Ricky moved onwards and upwards. A fight between me and Amir Khan had a window but that one is gone. The fans have seen enough big fights falling through. I was in Liverpool for Anthony Crolla's fight on Saturday night and all the boxing fans were buzzing about me and Mitchell. I was planning on going down to London for a press conference today to look Kevin in the eye and ask him what his excuse was going to be after this one.
“I can sleep well at night. My supporters are disappointed but I feel sorry for Kevin's supporters because they all turned out last year to watch him against Katsidis, he had a great turn out and he let them down by getting knocked out and has let them down again.”
Rumour has it that Mitchell has been advised to get a warm-up under his belt so he can shed the rust from a lengthy, eleven months by time the first bell rings, sabbatical. “Why prolong the build-up to a fight that is already bubbling along nicely?” asked Murray.
“I'll have had six months out by the time we get to fight but we'll have twelve rounds to settle into it. I'm sure the fight will more than make up for the wait. I signed with Frank so I wouldn't get stuck in the domestic scene; Kevin was the last bit of business in the UK. Frank is the best promoter in the world. I wanted to tell him today that his job is to line up the fights and I know that it is my job to win the fights to bring the titles home.
“I have spoken to Frank and am training for a fight on April the 2nd. I want to be the next star in British boxing. I was looking forward to bring the excitement down to London for Frank, the London fans and my travelling support. We agreed on this fight, it is a shame it is not happening – I didn't need Kevin right now, he needed me. I can move onto world title level knowing that I gave Kevin an opportunity that he didn't want to give to me last year.
“I told you after Kevin got knocked out by Katsidis that I wouldn't have left anyone feeling let down or disappointed if Frank had delivered me that type of opportunity. The fans need to know that I won't let them down if I get a world title fight and that I won't take my eye off the ball.”
Murray is keeping an eye on Humberto Soto, Miguel Acosta and Juan Manuel Marquez as he bids to ensure that he is fully briefed should a world title tilt come to pass. The 26-year-old is keen to focus on his own story as he moves into the most crucial phase of his seven year career.
He said, “I want to concentrate on my career. I've won the English lightweight title, the British and now the European – world title eliminators and chances are the next stop along the road. I have asked Frank for a world title. I signed with him for that because he can deliver, if he delivers then I won't be denied. Rios fights Acosta for the WBA title this month. I'd take the winner of that or take on [WBC holder] Soto or Urban Antillon if he beats Soto in May.
“Everyone knows that Marquez is the proper world champion, his team mentioned me a few weeks ago as their fight against Morales has fallen through and I would love to fight Marquez. People might write me off because Marquez is a living legend but what is the point of being in this game if I don't want to mix it with someone like Juan?”
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