By John Evans
Martin Murray ended a frustrating 2012 on a high at the Manchester Arena last night as he stopped Venezuelan Jorge Navarro in six one-sided rounds to pick up the WBA interim middleweight title and put himself in prime position to land the biggest fight in the 160lb division.
Rumours have circulated for weeks that Murray is one of a couple of opponents being considered for a Sergio Martinez ‘homecoming’ fight in Argentina next year. Murray isn’t the type to shout the odds and call people out but it’s safe to say that if it is his phone that rings, the former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion fancies the job.
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” said Murray after the fight. “We know there’s a lot more to come from us. We know Martinez is a pound for pound fighter but we think we can beat him. We’re world class and improving all the time. Even though it’s in Argentina, we’re confident we can beat him. I know my management team have spoken to Martinez but I didn’t want to look past this fight.”
The now 12-1 (10) Navarro (159½lbs), bought a punchers record and ‘can do’ attitude with him to Manchester but lacked the experience to land anything of note. Having cruised through his last outing against Frenchman Karim Achour, a motivated Murray (also 159½lbs), was able to land hard and early this time.
Normally one to scout out his opponents for a round or two, the 30-year-old from St. Helens immediately found a home for his overhand right and floored the Venezuelan in the first round. He remained well on top throughout and utilised his underrated boxing skills more than in recent outings. Eventually, another right dropped Navarro dropped in the sixth and Murray’s accurate follow up attack forced Navarro’s corner to toss in the towel at 1.40 of the round.
“That was the plan, to break him down with little shots,” he said. “Break his heart by stabbing away with the jab and right hand and when you see the big shots let them go. They’re the performances we should be putting in every time to be fair. Sometimes it doesn’t go right but like I’ve said, it wasn’t a 100% proper performance, but we’re happy with it and know there’s more to come.
“I had to be careful because we knew he could punch but we weren’t in any proper danger. I could see everything coming and once again Oliver [Harrison] got the tactics down to a T. He predicted exactly how the fight would go and what he’d do. I had to be wary of his power but I was enjoying it.”
In one of those moments that will stick with Murray for life and also illustrates his growing stature in the sport, while Murray was giving his thoughts on his evenings work a certain Roberto Duran entered the dressing room to pass on his congratulations and tell Murray that he is “a good fighter. Very good fighter.”
“Unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “I couldn’t believe it when he walked in. It’s something else when you’ve got somebody like that coming in to congratulate you. It’s inspiring isn’t it? People I used to watch growing up congratulating me on my performances, it makes me want to go on and become world champion.”
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