MARTIN MURRAY is hoping a fifth world title challenge will finally result in a championship victory. The St. Helens man has drawn with Felix Sturm in Germany, pushed Sergio Martinez close in Argentina and put up a gallant fight with Gennady Golovkin, not to mention suffering a points defeat to Arthur Abraham in Hanover. Now he gets his first world title fight in the UK, when he challenges WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders at the O2 on April 14.
“I’ve always been brought in cannon fodder,” Murray said nonchalantly. “I’m really grateful for getting the opportunity, especially getting the fight over here.”
The challenger rates Saunders highly. “I’m under no illusions how tough this fight is going to be. It’s kind of like the Martinez fight, he’s the only one I can relate him to, him being a southpaw [but] slicker and fresher. Even when I fought Martinez, he was number three pound-for-pound at the time, I knew he was old. Whereas I know Billy Joe’s fresh. I’m expecting a tougher test,” Martin said.
Murray has had a punishing career. As well as enduring 11 rounds with Golovkin, Murray stepped up to super-middleweight to face George Groves, then on his way to becoming a world champion. “The biggest puncher I’ve faced for one punch, Groves, just a back hand. It felt like there was more power in there. Golovkin’s was more of a thud. Every shot was hard. His jab was like a ramrod. It was solid. Everywhere he hit you, you felt it. Whereas when I fought Groves I was just thinking about his back hand. Because he’s got great power in that backhand. So I think for one-punch power I would pick Groves but for consistency, constant power, it’s obviously Golovkin. Fighting people like Groves, Abraham, Martinez, Sturm and Golovkin, that’s why I really rate Golovkin because obviously they’re all quality operators but Golovkin’s on that level higher than them. I’d seen there were chinks in all their armour but there was nothing in Golovkin. He gave nothing away. That’s why I rate him as the best out there at middleweight.”
With Golovkin’s rematch with Canelo Alvarez announced, Murray tipped ‘GGG’ for victory. “It was never a draw [first time around against Alvarez]. So I thought Golovkin got it,” he said. “The politics of boxing, I know better than most the way that is. But I think they’ll go the same [way] again.
“I thought [Canelo] fought him really well. The stuff he did worked on him. But I just think Golovkin’s just a complete fighter and I think when they fight again he’ll get the decision, he’ll get the right nod this time.”
The winner of Saunders-Murray can reasonably expect to fight the Canelo-Golovkin winner in a unification for all four middleweight titles.
Even though Murray has fought almost all the world’s elite, he still likes the thought of fighting Canelo Alvarez. “I’m at a stage in my career where it would have to be something big for me to get motivated for. This [Saunders] has come at the perfect time for me with how I’ve been feeling,” Murray said. “This has come up and I’m chomping at the bit for it.”