By Terence Dooley
Martin Murray hopes to put almost a year of frustration behind him when fighting for the WBA’s interim world middleweight title on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s November 24 comeback at Manchester’s MEN Arena.
Murray, 24-0-1 (10), drew with Felix Sturm for the WBA’s Super world middleweight title in December yet has been able to secure a big fight since that memorable night at Germany’s SAP-Arena — his sole 2012 appearance thus far a 10-round decision win over Karim Achour on June 16.
Murray, though, now has his sights set on another big showcase night; he will also fight for the WBA’s interim middleweight title on the Hatton bill. Venezuela’s unbeaten Jorge Navarro — the WBA’s Fedelatin titlist — is a possible opponent for the WBA’s number three-ranked contender.
Gennady Golovkin holds the regular WBA title; Daniel Geale recently won the Super WBA belt from Sturm; neither man is likely to fight again in the next few months. With Sturm sitting at number two in the ratings, and with the former champion’s future at the weight uncertain, Murray will find himself next in line for a crack at one of the WBA’s full world titles should he pick up the interim crown.
However, and despite the lure of a title shot for the forthcoming opponent, Murray’s team have found it hard to secure a name for the 29-year-old contender. “To be honest, it has been murder because we tried to get (Matthew) Macklin and (Darren) Barker,” said Murray when confirming some of the details of his next fight to BoxingScene.
“We tried to get Andy Lee, but the WBA had taken him out the ratings when he fought for the WBC title (a seventh-round loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Junior on the same night as Murray’s last fight). We tried to get Craig McEwan as well, but they (the WBA) won’t have him. They’ve got Navarro, who we’re looking at, ranked high — he is undefeated (in 12) and has knocked 10 out, so he’s interesting to me because he’s dangerous. It is a struggle to get opponents because I want to fight people who mean something. We’re waiting to see if Navarro will accept it (the fight).”
“I can always get up for fights,” he said when asked if he had been suffering from a post-Sturm hangover. “I’ll never cut corners in training and am the best trainer out there — I always put the graft in. I just want the best opponents out there because that’s what you put the work in there for.
“I am excited to be chief support to Ricky (Hatton), but it will be nice to have the right opponent. I’ve accepted it (struggling to entice fellow contenders into a fight) as the way it is going to be. I’ve got a great manager (Neil Marsh) who is sorting things out for me, so I’m happy to be on the bill and focusing in training on being ready for November 24.”
He added: “I’ve said it before, it (getting a draw with Sturm) was the worst thing that could have happened because if I’d have won then people would have wanted me for the title and if I’d got smashed people would think I’m an easy night. A draw put me on the world stage, but it stalled me a little bit.”
Sill, the WBA interim belt will be a nice carrot, should Murray win it, and will draw prospective opponents out into the open. “There you go, that’s another priority because it gets me highly ranked and pushes me on for another world title,” said Murray. “I’d love to be involved in big fights so I can look at my career and say I was involved in great fights.”
As for his domestic rivals Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, Murray rued the lack of a fight with either of his fellow world title challengers.
He said: “Macklin got offered £150,000 to fight me, but he’s fighting Joachim Alcine (in Las Vegas on Saturday night) for a third of that instead. Macklin said, ‘What scares me about Murray — it is an easy fight for me’, then takes this other fight. What does that tell you? Barker’s injured, there’s nothing he can do about that, but I asked for Andy Lee for the WBA interim. Those domestic fight just don’t seem to be happening.”
June’s routine win over Achour on the Scott Quigg versus Rendall Munroe undercard at Manchester’s Velodrome left Murray dissatisfied. The WBA interim title is just the tonic he needs. Sharing a bill with his promoter and mentor Ricky Hatton is another fillip for the St Helens-based boxer.
“I’m made up,” he said. “Going from Sturm to down the pecking order on an undercard was a bit depressing, but coming back to this fight on a massive, packed Ricky Hatton comeback is something that makes me want to put on a show and establish myself as a world class fighter.
“Ricky’s shows sell themselves. I’ll be taking a few fans, don’t get me wrong, but it shows that Ricky rates me to make sure I’m one of the fighters who gets out along with Scott Quigg and others.”
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