By Kvein Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
MARTIN MURRAY knows he is in for some Argie Bargie tonight but insists he can come out on top.
The St Helens puncher says he is ready to overcome the most hostile atmosphere any British fighter has ever encountered.
He is aiming to relieve WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez of his belt in a real hotbed of fanaticism in Buenos Aires.
Most observers believe it’s mission impossible against the best 160lb fighter in the world right now – but Murray’s determination is clear.
Murray, 30, says he is ready for everything Martinez and 40,000 fans at Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield football stadium can throw at him in what is certain to be a pit of hate.
He said: “I’m not really bothered about the booing because I will be relieved the fight has finally arrived.
“Thousands of Argies screaming against me makes no difference and I am just focused on getting the job done.”
Martinez occupies hero status in Argentina and last year was voted the country’s Sportsman of the Year, beating off a challenge from footballer Lionel Messi.
In his last fight, Martinez outpointed Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez Jr to confirm his status as the world’s leading middleweight fighter.
As if the odds were not already stacked against him, Murray must overcome a southpaw for the first time in his career.
Murray’s only setback in the paid ranks, where he has had 26 bouts, was a draw against Felix Sturm in a WBA title challenge.
He said: “We have had a great training camp and it is about going over there and getting the job done.
“The southpaw sparring is not so much of a problem, just a new challenge.
“I haven’t fought any as a professional. But I did as an amateur and I’ve had plenty of southpaw sparring. It has gone well and I can’t see it being a problem because I handled the southpaw sparring well.”
Murray is promoted by Ricky Hatton, who had a memorable 2005 win over Aussie legend Kostya Tszyu when many had dismissed his chances.
Hatton said: “Tszyu was the No.2 pound-for-pound in the world when I fought him and I think Martinez is No.3. Martin is going away to box in front of 40,000 Argentinians so I think it’ll go down as one of the best wins ever by a British fighter.
“Martin is an underdog, he knows that, but he’s more than capable of winning the fight. I have every faith in him.”
PREDICTION: I expect a brave fight from Murray but I can’t see him overcoming Martinez, who I take to win around the eighth.