By Jake Donovan
Middleweight contender Martin Murray picked up his second straight win, though neither winning performance was as impressive as his lone loss.
The Brit struggled at times before picking up the pace and forcing Ishmael Tetteh to quit prior to the start of the 7th round, Wednesday evening in Gauteng, South Africa.
Fighting for the first time under Rodney Berman's Golden Gloves promotional banner, Murray had a hard time finding his rhythm against an otherwise made-to-order opponent. Tetteh was there to fight, but also there to get hit. Murray eventually dialed in his offense, but hardly looked like the world-class contender who came within inches of upsetting Sergio Martinez a year ago, nearly to the day.
Once Murray got going, the action was generally one way. Tetteh was successful when he threw back, but reached a point where he seemed disinterested in fighting. Murray scored with a wicked body shot in round six that forced Tetteh to a knee, but the referee for whatever reason refused to acknowledge the sequence as a knockdown.
Murray continued to throw, scoring with another body shot but also catching the bridge of Tetteh's nose with his head. Just as it seemed that Murray was ready to pick up steam, Tetteh decided to not come out for the start of the seventh round.
With the win, Murray advances to 27-0-1 (12KO). The win is his second straight, but has looked ordinary in both fights, which bookend a sea of bad press.
The 31-year old was scheduled to face Jarrod Fletcher this past February in Monte Carlo, but pulled out due to an alleged injury. The move was followed by a release of his contract with Hatton Promotions, who threw the middleweight under the bus claiming he has backed out of several title fights.
Murray resurfaced with Golden Gloves Promotions, an odd move considering that Berman was the lead promoter for the very show in Monte Carlo from which he withdrew. They will try again to roll the dice in the casino resort, as Murray is slated to appear on the next Monaco show which is scheduled for early this summer.
As to whether or not another title shot is in his future, his handlers aren't yet committed to dive into the deep end.
"We are looking at a title shot in November," Berman stated afterward. "He certainly needs fights between now and then. He needs rounds very badly; tonight's fight showed that."
Murray has come up short in two past attempts at a middleweight title, with a strong case to be made that he deserved to win both times. A 12-round draw versus Felix Sturm in Dec. '11 left the public split on whether or not Murray deserved to leave Germany with the title.
A similar argument was made last April, when Murray traveled to Argentina for his World middleweight title challenge against lineal champ Sergio Martinez. The visiting challenger dominated early and had the local hero on the canvas. However, Murray failed to close the show in the championship rounds, leaving just enough room for Martinez to escape with a disputed decision and his title still intact.
Wednesday's ring appearance marked his first fight in South Africa. The majority of his pro career has taken place in England, in part to due to travel visa issues due to his criminal record, an arrest in 2006 that has cost him at least one lucrative fight. Murray was tabbed to face then unbeaten middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June '12, but denied the HBO-televised fight when he was disallowed to leave England at the time.
With those issues cleared up (for the most part), Murray sets his sights on a globetrotting tour - and hopefully better performances to come on the road back to title contention.
Tags: Martin Murray
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox