IT didn’t turn out to be the war that we all expected between Martin Murray and Gabriel Rosado but it was a good night at the Echo Arena nonetheless.
Rosado had been in the UK for a good while and I tried to catch up with him at the Peacock gym the week before but, having spent a fruitless afternoon waiting for him in Canning Town, it wasn’t until the open workout in fight week that I got my first sight of the Philadelphian.
You don’t learn anything about what’s going to happen on fight night at open workouts but you do see and hear interesting little things. Rosado wanted to know who’d chosen the picture of him that Matchroom used for the fight poster, one that showed him with a swollen, busted up eye. He didn’t like it. He was also keen to be on last, despite being the first to arrive. Little things mattered to the American.
Thursday’s press conference was also interesting. I knew we were going to see Antony Fowler announced as a new Matchroom signing, what I didn’t know was that Dave Coldwell would be unveiled as his trainer. Dave was the first person I saw when I arrived and I assumed he was there in his capacity as manager to Lee Appleyard. Fowler’s a confident man but one, Dave told me, that is aware of his faults and under no illusions about how hard he’ll have to work to achieve what he wants to in the pro ring, a journey that starts at Bramall Lane on May 27 on the Brook vs Spence undercard. Fowler was at ease under the spotlight but did find himself interrupted just a couple of sentences into his opening remarks by Tony Bellew’s Z Cars ring tone.
Fowler’s former GB team mate Joe Cordina was there, just a couple of days away from his debut and was still waiting to discover who he’d be fighting. The Welshman wasn’t bothered and in any case late notice opponents could be a pretty common occurrence in the early part of his career as matching him will be difficult, as it will for Kelly, Okolie and Fowler.
Sean Dodd was on typically fine form when the main press conference got underway, even furnishing the Oxford English dictionary with a new word in “winnage.” Rosado waited until everyone else was assembled before making his entrance even though, once again, he was in plenty of time and there were the first signs that Murray was starting to grow a bit tired of his opponent and his insistence that he was the better boxer. They would, the St Helens man said, find out on the night. He kept his remarks brief as he needed to get to hospital to see his young daughter.
At the weigh-in the next day Rosado was half an hour late; a psychological ploy I’m sure, but it didn’t work as Murray refused to wait and had tipped the scales and left by the time he arrived. The visitors weren’t happy that they weren’t able to witness their opponent making the weight but the Board of Control had video footage and they had to be satisfied with that.
On fight night I was commentating alongside Paul Smith and Tony Bellew. Paul’s not far away at all from another world title shot, this time against the WBA regular champion Tyron Zeuge. He’s just waiting for the date and venue to be one hundred percent confirmed but it will be another trip to Germany for sure. As we were waiting for the action to get underway the conversation turned to Wembley and Joshua vs Klitschko. Smith’s take on it was that it was one of those fights where an upset was impossible because whatever ended up happening, the outcome would appear, after the event, to have been inevitable all along: If Joshua won then we’d all point at the difference in age and wonder why anyone had ever doubted that AJ wouldn’t be too young, hungry and powerful for the 41 year old Wladimir, but if Klitschko won then then the consensus would be that it was obvious that the former undisputed champion would know too much and have too much for an inexperienced and untested opponent.
Tony Bellew kicked off the show by announcing that he’d be fighting again, something we’d all strongly suspected, and that he’d be sharing ringside duties with two potential opponents in Deontay Wilder and David Haye the next week in London. The action that followed saw a good night for Mersey fighters with Sean Dodd, Rocky Fielding and Martin Murray all winning whilst Tom Farrell won an all Liverpool derby against Tommy Carus and Welsh Wizard Cordina made a predictably impressive debut.
Murray vs Rosado ended on a bit of a sour note. Murray was unhappy at being clipped just after the bell a couple of times and Rosado was equally unimpressed by being hit with some low blows. But it was the scorecards, or rather a particular scorecard, that saw the American lose the plot. The 119-109 in Murray’s favour returned by Poland’s Leszek Jankowiak was absurd and Rosado wasn’t slow to point it out, leaning over the ropes above us and letting Eddie Hearn, who was standing beside us (the Matchroom promoter pretty much always comes over at the end of a fight to see how we’ve scored it before the result’s announced), know exactly what he thought of it. A bemused Hearn maintained a diplomatic silence, the scoring was nothing to do with him after all, before the two boxers squared up in the ring and had to be separated.
So not the fight or the ending that had been predicted but if we always knew what was going to happen then nobody would watch sport at all. I did hear one startlingly accurate prediction in the hotel bar later though and it came from my colleague Andy Scott. Joseph Parker vs Hughie Fury, set for Auckland on May 6, would not happen, he said. He had no evidence, it was just a gut feeling. When I woke up the next morning and checked twitter he’d been proved right. Andy’s picked Joshua to win next week so hopefully he hasn’t peaked too early and still has one more in the tank.