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Mexico vs. Russia; Ben Murphy Talks; Fox Returns

Undefeated junior middleweight prospect and Maryland native, Alantez "Sly as A" Fox (8-0-1, 4 KOs), will try to carry the successful momentum from his last outing into his next as he squares off against fellow Maryland native Julius Kennedy (7-2-1, 3 KOs) in his first main event attraction.  The bout will serve as the headliner for a card which takes place on January 12th, 2013 at the Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Maryland, in front of a crowd that will surely appreciate an event that matches up two of its very own in-state combatants against one another.

Fox is a superb boxer who possesses a substantial height and reach advantage over the average 154 pounder.  Fox is able to utilize his 6'5" stature and maintains the kind of well-rounded game that allows him to fight both inside and out.  Promoted by Boxing 360, Fox is confident that he'll shine in his first main event bout.

"My handlers are giving me the opportunities and it's up to me to capitalize on them," Fox said. "My career is in the best hands, but this is boxing and at the end of the day it's on me to do the right things inside the ring and out.  This is a benchmark fight on the road to my ultimate goal and I can't overlook the importance of each outing and the lessons I can gain from them.  It's an honor to headline a fight in my home state and ticket buyers will be treated to a very entertaining night of boxing."

"There are a lot of talented prospects in boxing and Fox is one of them, but what separates him from the rest is his desire to outwork the competition," said Boxing 360's Mario Yagobi. "This kid has an insatiable appetite for hard work and if you couple that with his maturity it's easy to see what makes Fox so special.   On January 12th the Maryland fight fans will get the chance to see a future star on his way to the top."

Lausanne, Switzerland - In order to deal with the threat posed by the visiting Russian team in their Group A encounter this Friday 11 January (21:00 local time), Mexico Guerreros have ensured their most talented boxers will be taking to the ring ready to battle. 2012 World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Championships finalist pair Elias Emigdio and Juan Romero have both been named in the squad along with undefeated duo Marvin Cabrera and Isaac Munoz so it promises to be a big night at fortress Foro Polanco.

Explosive 21-year-old orthodox Mexican Bantamweight (50-54kg) Emigdio, who extended his WSB record to 10-2 with another classy win in week three, will be pitted against Mukhammad Shekhov in the first bout of the evening. The Russian southpaw will surely be unable to cope with the speed, agility and constant barrage of punches that Emigdio likes to subject his opponents to.

Reigning WSB Lightweight (57-61kg) Champion Romero just seems to get better and better with the 22-year-old once again demonstrating his killer instinct in his last outing with a dominant display against London Olympian Ahmed Mejri of Algeria. The Mexican star will battle untested Konstantin Bogomazov and his experience should stand him in good stead for this one.

At Middleweight (68-73kg), the mouth-watering showdown between Cabrera and tough Russian Aleksandr Ivanov is really one to look forward to. The Mexican teenage southpaw has impressed in his two wins this season and his height could make the difference on the night. Ivanov will be hurting from his defeat to Poland's Tomasz Jablonski last time out so will be eager to get back to winning ways.

Ivanov told WSB, "All I want is to put on a good performance for my team. There is a great spirit in the group and we cannot wait to test ourselves against Mexico". On his opponent he declared, "I do not know much about him apart from what I have seen on the internet. I am feeling great both physically and mentally so I will stick to my game plan and hopefully it should bring me a win".

Munoz Gutierrez will then lock horns with the impressive 29-year-old orthodox fighter Danil Shved in the Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) bout. The young Mexican prodigy has been top class in his first season in WSB but he faces his toughest test to date when he locks horns with the savvy Shved.

To bring the night's show to a close, it will be the height of Mexico's 26-year-old Venezuelan Jose Payares versus the power of Maxim Babanin in the Heavyweight (91+kg) contest. The home boxing southpaw underwhelmed in his last outing and will be keen to put things right against an opponent who has only fought once in WSB.

With the Guerreros notoriously hard to beat at home, Russia will have to be on top of their game to claim victory from this match. It will be tight but the odds favour Mexico in this one.

IN DEPTH WITH BEN MURPHY

The Channel of Champion BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) starts an action packed 2013 with its first live domestic show on Friday 18th January from a sold-out Walsall Town Hall featuring two big British title fights.

Main event on the show sees unbeaten Birmingham star Frankie Gavin making the first defence of his British Welterweight title against West Midlands rival Jason Welborn, while chief support features Hove’s Ben Murphy take on Walsall’s Martin Gethin for the Vacant British Lightweight Championship.

Murphy, a Southern Area champion who’s facing the biggest challenge of his career, talks to boxing writer Glyn Evans about his background.

Name: Ben Murphy

Weight: Lightweight

Born: Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey

Age:  32

Family background: I’ve a sister who I’m pretty close with and two much older brothers who moved out when I was young and I don’t have a great amount of contact with.

Today, I live in Hove with my missus and daughter who’ll be four in January.

Trade: I do some personal training and I also teach yoga.

Nickname: I don’t have one.

What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I always liked it and watched it but didn’t start participating until I was 22. Growing up, the martial arts were more my thing. I did Taekwondo and, when I was 19, I went out to South Korea to train for six months. After returning to Britain, I found there was nothing to match the training I’d been doing out there so I drifted into Thai boxing and then (conventional) boxing.

What do you recall of your amateur career? I started with the Exeter club, briefly passed through the Paignton club, also in Devon, then ended up at the Hove ABC which was run by (former WBO heavyweight challenger) Scott Welch.

All told, I had about 25 bouts – the last 15 at Hove – and lost four, I think. I achieved nothing massive as an amateur but really enjoyed myself. It was fun. I won the National Novices for under ten bouts then, straight after, beat the Novice champion for under 20 bouts, at the weight above.

I went in the ABAs one year, but I’d only had about 15 contests at the time and I got beat by Ben Jones of Crawley (the future English super-feather champion). I lost on points to Bradley Skeete, knocked out Todd Miles of the Repton, who was rated number three in England at the time, and also beat a Welsh champion called Alex Urrutia.

I definitely wish I’d got into boxing earlier but, that said, I’m very happy with my journey so far. I’m quite proud that, having started so late, I’ve made it to box for the British title.

Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? By the age of 26, it just dawned that if I wanted to fight, I might as well get paid for it. I also realised that my style was more suited to the pros. I was never one to dance around and pick opponents off.  In the amateurs, refs were always on my case. I’d be trying to slip and roll but all I’d hear was ‘Head up, Murphy!’

Tell us about your back up team: I don’t have a promotional deal as such but I’m managed by Mickey Helliet and trained by Paul Newman, a former pro light-heavy from Bognor Regis, at Scott Welch’s Hove Boxing Gym.

Paul’s just a bastard, an ex Marine who trains me proper hard. He’s still got that military thing in him. He’s a slave driver but he makes me very solid.

I also take advice from a few other people, particularly Tony Dib (Anthony Di Barnardo) who runs a company called Balance In Motion. He helps me with strength and conditioning plus administers acupuncture.

What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy?  I train six days a week and take Sunday off.

I’m usually training all day. Even without a fight scheduled, I’ll sometimes run up to 16 miles a day with a ruck sack on, just to put endurance in the bank. I’ll cut that back as a fight date approaches.

Most days, I’ll spend an hour and a half doing yoga, and maybe an hour doing strength work, in addition to two and a half hours at the boxing gym. There, I’ll chop and change my routine accordingly. I do all the usual; bags, pads, sparring, circuits, ground work but I have no set schedule. I listen to my body and let it guide me as to what it needs. I might focus specifically on strength, flexibility...I like to keep things fresh.

I do quite a lot of ‘alternative’ stuff. I beat my body with sticks to toughen it up and incorporate a lot of yoga, meditation, Tai Chi which all helps me focus, not just regarding boxing but in life generally.

I believe you have to be connected to yourself all the time and those practices help keep my spirit centred. They give me balance, and when you’ve got balance, you can develop strength, speed and power.

I most enjoy sparring. It takes your focus to the next level and I travel all over the place to get it. There’s no part of my training that I don’t enjoy. If there was, I’d stop doing it.

Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I think most would view me as an aggressive, come forward brawler but I’ve got more to me than people think. Still, strength is definitely my key. Being so short (5ft 4in) is actually good. It works for me. I’m used to fighting taller guys but opponents usually haven’t met anyone who comes in as low as I do.

What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Everything.

What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? Completely different games. Pro fights are so much longer that you can’t just run away and constantly move backwards as some successful amateurs do. In the pros, eventually, you’re going to find yourself in front of the opponent, forced to go toe-to-toe. There’s more contact in the pros and that definitely suits me.

Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Probably Gary Buckland (the reigning British super-feather champion outpointed Ben over six rounds in Murphy’s sixth pro fight). He was good all the way around; strong, quick, elusive. Good fighter.

All time favourite fighter:  I can’t pick one. All boxers have strengths and weaknesses. I’ll watch Mike Tyson for his power and elusiveness, Sugar Ray Leonard for his smoothness...At the moment, I’m watching a lot of (Cuba’s WBA Super/IBF featherweight champion) Yuriorkis Gamboa who’s amazing. He’s always so smooth and relaxed yet so fast and powerful.

All time favourite fight: It’s between the Morales-Barrera trilogy and Corrales-Castillio I

Which current match would you most like to see made? Yuriorkis Gamboa against Adrien Broner. Helluva fight. I’ll go with Gamboa to nick it.

What is your routine on fight day? I’ll have a nice long lie in. Throughout the day I’ll eat some nice food, lots of carbs; sweet potatoes, porridge and veg.

Then I’ll do some meditation and Tai Chi to relax myself. I actually enjoy that time, the hours building up to a fight. For a period from about three weeks before a fight, I can feel my awareness gradually building up and sense myself getting more and more focussed. Fight day, it reaches a pinnacle.

Entrance music:  I’ve not even thought about it. I’ve pretty much had something different every fight.

What are your ambitions as a boxer? Winning this British title.

How do you relax? Meditation

Football team: I quite enjoy watching football on the tele but don’t support anyone. I like watching Barcelona.

Read: I read loads of books; anything to do with the spirit, religion, Shamanism.

Music:  I’m into all music.

Films/TV: I’m really not a film kind of person and I can’t watch tele; don’t like it. If the missus has it on, I’ll leave the room and go and have a read elsewhere!

Aspiration in life: That’s the ultimate question! It’s all about my daughter, bringing her up well, teaching her.

Motto: ‘In life, there are no ordinary moments!’ It’s something I’ll be stressing to my daughter.

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