John Murray says that beating Anthony Crolla will finally earn him the respect he believes his career deserves as the meet at the Phones 4u Arena in their hometown of Manchester on April 19, live on Sky Sports.
The friends meet as rivals in a crunch clash in the Lightweight division, with a rematch for Murray against Kevin Mitchell or a dust-up with former WBO champion Ricky Burns both potential carrots dangled in front of the returning Murray, who is back in the mix after retiring following his World title challenge against Brandon Rios in New York in December 2011.
Murray made it two wins in two since his comeback with a second round stoppage of John Simpson, flooring the rugged Scotsman three times in the round with body shots, but the 29 year old says the reaction to his win has frustrated him.
“I thought it was a great performance against John,” said Murray. “Simpson is a tough man and I don't think anyone else in the country could've beaten him the way I did, Anthony Crolla certainly couldn't, it would be a tough fight for him and although I would expect him to win I don't think he would've done it the way I did.
“I don't feel that I get the credit I deserve for the career I have had and I use that as a motivation, it's put a chip on my shoulder and I use that to go into the ring and take people out until I do get the credit that's due.
“Anthony is trying to break into the world scene and I am trying to get back there and land another World title shot so it's the perfect fight. I think the winner of the fight will get a World title shot, so the stakes are huge.
“The break recharged my batteries. I was a bit flat towards the back end of my career, the last four or five fights I was just coming forward with my hands high trying to wear my opponents down because I was a bit worn out. But I've had that break and I can see in training that I'm rejuvenated, fresher and sharper.”
Murray has crossed swords with former trainer Joe Gallagher in the build-up to the fight, with Gallagher in Crolla’s corner plotting his demise. Murray believes the work he is doing with his trainer Michael Marsden will give him the edge over Crolla, who is part of Gallagher’s busy gym of British talent.
“I'm working hard and it's great training one-on-one with Mike,” said Murray. “Joe has too many fighters in his gym and it's hard for him to give individuals the time that they need to really peak. I'm enjoying training and boxing again, and you could see on the scales before I boxed John that I was in good shape and getting the diet right.
“I've worked with Joe Gallagher for years but the relationship turned sour and we're not friends now. It's a shame but it's done now and I've got to concentrate on the fight now. Anthony and I are good friends but we're not right now as we're training hard and thinking about hurting each other. We can have a pint after the fight but right now we're having evil thoughts about doing each other in.”
Murray’s clash with Crolla is part of a great night of action in Manchester, topped by Scott Quigg’s WBA World Super Bantamweight title defence against Nehomar Cermeno.
Olympic Gold medal heroes Anthony Joshua MBE and Luke Campbell MBE face their sixth pro contests, Josh Warrington defends his Commonwealth Featherweight title, Tyrone Nurse meets Tyler Goodjohn for the vacant English Light Welterweight title, Hosea Burton is hunting a first title fight and there’s action for Grzegorz Proksa who faces Matthew Hall, Martin J. Ward, Stephen Foster Jr, Jack Massey, Liam Hanrahan and Sam Hyde.
Tickets are on sale priced £30, £40, £60 and £100 via www.phones4uarena.co.uk or by calling 0844 847 8000, while £150 VIP packages are exclusively available through www.matchroomboxing.com or by calling 01277 359 900.