By Elliot Foster
Martin Murray ensured his ambitions at world level could still remain as he got a scrappy win.
The St Helens middleweight had been set to face Billy Joe Saunders for the Hatfield ace’s WBO middleweight title.
But the undefeated global ruler withdrew from their clash at the O2 Arena in London, leaving Martin Murray to challenge Texas-based Mexican Roberto Garcia for the WBC Silver title.
Murray, who moved on to 37-4-1 with 17 early, came out on top in a rather forgettable affair against the man who replaced Saunders, exclusively live on BT Sport and BoxNation at the top of a Frank Warren promotion.
With the win, the 35-year-old is likely to be pushed up the rankings with the WBC and could be in line for a future rematch showdown with feared Kazakh Gennady Golovkin, who stopped him inside 11 rounds back in November 2015.
He is trained by Jamie Moore in Manchester and now has three straight wins since being beaten by George Groves at the same venue back in 2016.
Despite the win, Murray can expect to be sanctioned by the WBC for his actions at a heated weigh-in on Friday.
The two fighters were involved in an intense staredown before Garcia was pushed by Murray and security was forced to intervene.
The 38-year-old outgoing champion, who has not tasted defeat since 2010, is promoted by Don King and he more than played his part in making the fight scrappy, having points deducted in the second and in the ninth, before the three scoring ringside judges turned in tallies of 116-111, 118-109 and 118-108 in favour of Murray.
Murray is still willing to face Saunders, who withdrew from two scheduled dates, if a financial guarantee is put into place.
"You cannot trust the man, he has done it twice so for me to do it again there would have to be some insurance in place," said Murray.
"He loves being the world champion but does not defend his belt. If there was insurance in place I would fight him and take him to school.
"I do believe there is a world title in me. I just need the right fight at the right time."