By Alexey Sukachev
Monte Carlo, Monaco
--For 37 years ruled Ivan the Terrible, one of the most cruel and dangerous tyrants of his era, of any era. With his oprichnina in full effect, there was no one who could oppose this reign of force and terror, whereas everyone in the Muscovite Tsardom trembled in fear of his sheer brutality.
Different in means, not as cruel in his sole Gennady Golovkin's title reign can be put within the same sentence with the rule of the Russian Tsar - due to its consistency, dominance and relentless power of utter despair of its victims. Martin Murray, one of greater opponents, dare to challenge Golovkin's supreme position, shared a common destiny with the rest of the field - battered badly and stopped.
His biggest gain? He was able to last till the eleventh round - the first ever fighter to do that against the Kazakhstani banger.
Murray, 32, was as good as anyone else of the crop. Rated #4 by the TBRB (and #1 by the WBC as well as #5 by the WBA) he was legally one of Golovkin's best opponents. His only blemishes on the record came against established titleholder and were met with recognition of Murray's newly found power and skills. In 2011 he drew with Felix Sturm who was nearing the end of his third title reign. A year and a half after he dropped then-undisputed champion of the middleweight division Sergio Martinez before losing to him narrowly (and controversially to a certain degree) on his home turf.
Preparing for the ultimate challenge, Murray, 2008 Prizefighter champion, had a strong year of 2014, winning over fringe contenders Domenico Spada and Maksim Bursak along the way. Team Murray thought it would help him against the champion but it wasn't the case.
Making the 13th defense of his WBA title, also defending his IBO regalia for the ninth time and his WBC interim belt - initially, Golovkin started cautiously and calculatedly. He wasn' in rush but he was on the offensive. Murray wisely utilized lateral movement and concentrated on the defensive trying to counter the Kazakh master. The first couple of rounds wee the most successful for him. He was able to tag Golovkin with some jabs and body shots and he wasn't seriously hurt by the champion. Murray did equally good in the third even landing some clean shots on the champion.
As is a usual case for a fighter, who overrated his own power and underestimated opponent's hidden danger, the British boxer became a little to aggressive for his own good. Against a killer puncher like Golovkin - he was forced to pay the price.
The bill came in in the fourth, when Golovkin caught Murray moving along the ropes with a right hand a bit under Martin's solar plexus. He followed it up with another assault and dropped him again with a right to the rib cage. Amazingly, Murray survived the round.
Execution continued in the fifth. Concentrating now on his head, Golovkin bloodied the challenger, opening cuts and forcing blood dripping from his nose. Murray was battered at that time but stood bravely. Meanwhile, Abel Sanchez instructed his protege to hone his skills and get more practice in between the rounds, meaning a painful and prolonged beating for the challenger.
Loosing his grip on Murray, Golovkin allowed the latter to take some chances in rounds six through nine. It's not that Murray wasn't hit hard - he was - but Golovkin, training new punches, new angles, showing new tricks and testing his defence, just let him go. Murray retaliated at the first convenience and was soon back to the fight. But only under Golovkin's control.
In the tenth, the champion decided he needs his knockout series to continue more than to hone other skills. Murray then started to take an increased amount of punishment. Late in the round he was dropped with a right cross but beat the count. The inevitable end came early into the eleventh, when referee Luis Pabon has seen enough and halted the action after another assault by the champion at 0:57 of the eleventh.
Murray, who has nothing to be ashamed off, drops to 29-2-1, 12 KOs. He is still good enough to give fits the rest of the division. At least, no one lasted less than he has against the Triple G.
For Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs) it's a different story. Murray's stoppage was his 19th in a row since summer 2008. He has won all of his title shots by knockout. The only question left for TBRB #1 rated middleweight, is there anyone who can jump the gun and challenge him?
A number of those willing is nearing zero with each contest won by the champion.
Producing one of his finest career performances, WBA/IBO minimumweight champion and TBRB #1 strawweight Hekkie "The Hex" Budler retained his belts and regalia against WBA #2 and former WBA interim champion Jesus Silvestre, one of his finest challengers lately. Budler dominated the fight with his skills, getting a well-earned and respected unanimous decision over twelve rounds.
Silvestre, who fought some top-rated strawweights, including champions Donnie Nietes, Ryo Miyazaki and Oswaldo Nowoa (whom he beat) and interim champs (Jose Rodriguez and Paipharob Por Nobnom), tried to bully a fragile-looking orange-white-haired champion from the onset. He was targeting Budler's body but the South African was very elusive.
Excellently using his upper body movement, fighting in spurts, laterally moving around the Mexican, Budler, who at 26 is entering his prime, gave his opponent little chances. Silvestre tried some roughhouse tactics and paid a price in the second round, when Hall-of-Fame referee Stanley Christodoulou deducted a point from him for a low blow, which indeed was way south the border.
It's not that Budler was running or hiding from the challenger. He wasn't. He was just boxing instead of rumbling but when forced to stand strong against the Mexican he gave him fits in heated exchanges. With each passed rounds, however, exchanges got more and more scarce as the champion took the fight under his firm control. Silvestre fought it to the end but precision wasn't his strength tonight, and his defense wasn't firm enough against light but busy-punching Budler.
After twelve rounds, the South African improves his record to 28-1, 9 KOs, making the third defense of his WBA and the seventh defense of his IBO 105lb titles. His only loss came in a higher weight class. Silvestre is now 30-6, with 22 KOs, and has plenty to lean from this loss. At 25 he isn't at the end of his career but he looks to be a more shopworn fighter than the champion and some other elite fighters of his weight class. Scores were: 117-110 (Luis Pabon) and 115-112 (Philippe Verbecke and Pawel Kardynyi). BoxingScene had it 116-111 - also for the champion.
Two years since his latest bitter loss to Stephane Jamoye, Lee Haskins is once again on the top of... Europe.
Haskins, 31, was a lucky beneficiary of a technical decision, issued in the eighth round of his fight against Frenchman Omar Lamiri for a vacant European bantamweight title.
Haskins, fighting in his third weight division (previously grabbing British and Commonwealth titles in flyweight and super flyweight categories) was coming in riding a four-bout winning streak, which followed after his loss to Jamoye, and the BBBofC British belt in his recent past. He also once held the European 118lb title, when he defeated future IBF champion Stuart Hall in July 2007. Considerably less experienced Lamiri (rated #13 by the WBC), 25, was a French and EBU-EU 118lb champion.
Fully using his vast advantage in experience, Haskins started very loosely, his hands down, moving and hitting from different angles. Lamiri had problems cornering the British fighter. Haskins, on the other hand, caught Lamiri with a stinging right hand, and down went Frenchman at the end of the round a few seconds after that punch. As was later reflected by the scorecards, referee Massimo Barrovecchio hasn't that a knockdown.
Down - officially or not - Lamiri was visibly shaken and not comfortable within the same ring with Haskins. He continued to move forward and had some mild success later on but the British boxer was much more consistent and effective with his sudden threats. However, Lamiri had a bigger success after a mid point, opening a major cut right above Hasnkins' right eye. To his disappointment the cut was ruled being caused by an accidental headbutt, not by a punch leading to the scorecards.
Scores announced were: 79-73 and 78-74 (twice) - for the British boxer, who improves to 31-3, with 13 KOs. Lamiri goes down to 13-2, 5 KOs.
In the opening fight of a four-bout Monaco boxing card, heavyweight prospect Hughie Fury improved his record to 15-0, with 8 KOs, after a hard-fought unanimous decision over heavily tattooed Ukrainian Andrey Rudenko (24-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled ten-rounder.
A younger breed of Fury family (Hughie is 20) was fighting relatively cautious in the first couple of rounds, while Rudenko, 31, looked sluggish and slow. It all changed in the third after a major right hand of the Ukrainian that shook Fury up. The Englishman was rocked also in the fourth while Rudenko has evened things.
However, after that Fury has slowly started to take control of the fight. His jab was annoying and he wisely clinched against physically stronger Rudenko on the inside. The Ukrainian had problems connecting with clean punches, and his state worsened even more in the seventh, when he was (unjustly) deducted a point for what was seen as an excessive use of his head.
Rudenko tried hard but failed to seriously scare Fury in the closing rounds. All three judges saw it widely for the British fighter: 97-92, 98-91 and 98-92. BoxingScene was in agreement with the first card. Fury, who scored twelve wins in a span of eight months in 2013, didn't look anything special in this outing but managed to get another victory - his first since May 2014. Rudenko has lost his second straight.