Murray eyes overdue glory
Martin Murray has been there, done that and got the middleweight t-shirt, but the fit isn’t quite what it used to be.
That t-shirt may indeed be well worn, but unfortunately it was never accompanied with a belt - a world title belt to be precise despite tremendous efforts against Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin. And an argument can be made that the Brit was unlucky on two of those occasions.
The days of Murray making the 11st 6lbs limit are now over. Tonight’s fight against George Beroshvilli at Liverpool’s Echo Arena hails the beginning of the 32-year-old’s run at the super-middleweight division. Extra weight = happy fighter.
“It’s about me enjoying boxing,” Murray told Boxing Monthly earlier this week. “It’s been hard to make middleweight and it’s going to be a lot better for me. I’ll just generally be a lot happier and a lot healthier at super-middleweight.
“With me having that bit of weight on there’s no stress, I feel great. I’m just so happier in myself and it’s just about me enjoying it at super-middleweight and reaching my true potential.”
His days as a middleweight will be remembered for coming up just short against three of the finest 160-pounders of this generation. The better the opponent, the better Murray fought
“I want the big fights,” he declared. “I don’t care what people say I’m not bothered. I’m in it for big fights, simple as that, to become world champion. I came close to winning a world title [at 160lbs]. When I won the WBA interim title in 2012 that was the last time I felt strong at middleweight. So obviously I’ve been there a long time. A lot longer than I would’ve wanted to but I would review it saying I thought I did okay at middleweight. I still believe I’ll beat any other middleweight but making the weight was tough. I’ve had a tough couple of years making the weight and I’m looking forward to just enjoying it more now with not as much dieting.”
The move 8lbs north in weight and the decision to join forces with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom has given Murray plenty reasons to be cheerful. With the likes of IBF world champion James DeGale and WBC challenger-in-waiting Callum Smith part of the same stable it won’t be long before Murray is amongst the big fights once again.
“That’s a fight I want and a fight I’ll get eventually,” he said of a future dust-up with DeGale. “I see some big fights at 168. I see some good, tough fights and I see some domestic fights but the domestic fights in this division are all against world class fighters. I know it’s going to be tough, but I want the big fights and I want to become world champion. I truly do believe, at super-middleweight, I can make that happen. I’m buzzing about this stage of my career.”
For a man who walks around at the 190lbs mark, he admits that making the super-middleweight won’t be a walk in the park but it doesn’t compare to the burden of having to boil down to middleweight.
“As soon as I knew I’d be fighting for a title at middleweight, the first thing what come to my head was ‘Shit, I’ve got to make 160’. I’d be dreading the coming weeks because of it,” said Murray.
“I’ve always thought it and my team’s always thought it that at middleweight I’m not reaching my true potential. We’re not getting in the ring 100%. When we get down to middleweight it’s taking things away from us that we need.”
BM asked what exactly was being taken away from Murray. “Power, strength and just being generally healthy. Coming into a fight at middleweight I’m fit, I’m super fit but I’m on my limit. When I got in there sometimes I wasn’t delivering what I was delivering in the gym.”
Last time out Murray went toe-to-toe with Golovkin whose punch power, unerring accuracy and finishing instinct have developed him into one of the most feared fighters on the planet. A man who many have avoided but Murray, an old-fashioned fighting man, refused to back down an inch when the pair met in February.
The cold and sterile fight atmosphere of Monte Carlo found itself turned into a more natural boxing environment when the pair met, thanks to Murray’s army of fans and the spectacle both men produced. The record states that the St. Helens native went the furthest with the Kazakh nightmare (11 rounds). However, it’s a fact that slightly irks Murray. He didn’t just go in there to last rounds. He believed he could win. The loss still hurts and Murray wouldn’t say no to a rematch at super-middleweight.
“It was hard to take at first because I got my first proper beating,” Murray said of the defeat. “I didn’t feel beat by Martinez. I felt well and truly beat off Golovkin. Looking back on the fight, it was a tough fight. I enjoyed the intensity and the challenge of it and I couldn’t have done anything different. I have no regrets whatsoever but I would’ve like to have fought him at super-middleweight because I knew what I needed to do in there to beat him but I couldn’t do it at middleweight.
“I think I’m the only one stupid enough to fight him twice. I knew what I needed to do to beat him but I just couldn’t do it at the weight. For my own peace of mind, I would like a rematch at super-middleweight if the fight’s right and its built right.”
Being built right matters to Murray. The move to Matchroom will undoubtedly see his profile reach the level that it should have done a long time ago. Murray certainly has no regrets about teaming up with Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves Promotions earlier last year. A unique opportunity that was built towards a fight with Golovkin and an association that ended amicably (after his contract was up), much to Murray’s delight.
“I absolutely loved it,” Murray said of his time with the South African outfit. I wish I got with Rodney at the start of my career. The way everything went when we got with him, we had the deal and got to work straight away towards the Golovkin fight. I had and I still have a great relationship with Rodney and Golden Gloves. It feels good knowing that we’re still friendly.
“What I want now - and I’m not saying I didn’t have it with Rodney because it was all structured and built towards Golovkin - is building my profile right and I’m sure I can get that with Eddie and Matchroom. I’m excited about what’s to come.”