MARTIN MURRAY’S quest for a middleweight world title continues. Twice on foreign soil he’s taken on seasoned champions. Murray went home from Germany without Felix Sturm’s WBA belt and left Argentina without Sergio Martinez’s WBC crown. But Martin greatly enhanced his own reputation in the process, drawing with Sturm in Mannheim and pushing world number one Sergio Martinez exceptionally hard.
AGAINST Martinez. It was the Argentine’s homecoming bout after confirming his superstardom with a victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr. But Murray didn’t allow himself to be troubled by thoughts of being an underdog. “Things like that, I don’t let them bother me, any type of negativity. I’m quite a strong-minded person and any type of negativity in my life, if it’s negative I just get rid of it. I don’t need that around me. It’s the same with a negative thought. It comes in my head, I just get rid of it. I override it. I don’t even contemplate it. That was the thing for that camp,” Murray said. “I just cracked on with what needed doing. I just trained and did as I was told.”
DON’T LET PROBLEMS DERAIL YOU
MARTIN’S preparations were disrupted by an injury to his elbow, which required an operation after the fight. “I had a dreadful training camp for Martinez. We couldn’t get the sparring we wanted because my elbow was bad, so when we did spar I didn’t perform because I wasn’t able to throw the punches I needed to throw,” Martin said.
He simply focused on executing his gameplan. “The whole performance came down to [trainer] Oliver [Harrison], the gameplan he did and the tactics. I can’t stress enough how good Oliver Harrison is. He’s never underrated by me but he’s very underrated by a lot of people. It never worked out exactly how we wanted [against Martinez], I tried to put it on him in the last round. He was crafty but that’s what experience does.
“Oliver, the fact that he’s been a fighter as well, he just makes sense. The way he explains things, the way he breaks down a fight, it’s completely different to the way I see it. He gets everything spot on. Fights are won in corners.”
FOCUS ON THE TACTICS
MURRAY announced himself at world level with his draw against Sturm and despite his inexperience then, Martin similarly kept faith in his gameplan.
“A lot of people didn’t give me much chance. I didn’t want to go in there and get wiped out, I reserved a little bit against Sturm. I’d gone 12 rounds before but it was all at my own pace against someone who wasn’t world class [Peter Mitrevski Jnr]. It was a different thing for me, so I kind of reserved a little bit. I didn’t want to go blasting all-out for six-to-eight rounds and then fade. I was reserved a little bit when I fought Sturm,” Murray said.
“It’ll be completely different next time.”
PREPARE FOR ALL SCENARIOS
“WE GO through that many different scenarios of how a fight could unfold, you’re always mentally and physically prepared for it, whatever happens. I think that’s down to Oliver and how he breaks down a fight and how he sees things. He understands the fact that things don’t work for you every time you go into a fight. He understands that sometimes you go in and you get hit and it changes exactly what you planned for,” Murray explained.
Hard work of course is the foundation for it all. Martin declared, “No one trains harder than me. I don’t cut corners, I don’t f*** about in the gym, I don’t p*** about and I don’t make excuses. I dedicate myself fully, since I turned pro this is my life.”
BOUNCE BACK FROM DISAPPOINTMENT
OPPORTUNITIES dried up for Murray, despite his impressive performance against Martinez. After Sturm, he was also forced to wait for his next title fight.
“It’s frustrating especially when you’ve come off such a high-profile fight, doing so well, on your game, and then ‘bang’, it’s like falling off the end of a cliff and I’ve got to rebuild myself all again,” Martin lamented. I proved that I belonged at the elite level with the big fights and nothing came about. I’m extremely disappointed, I’m frustrated, but it’s all been out of my hands.
“I’ve always done that with negatives, turn them into a positive. It’s just made me train harder.”
YOU CAN TRY
“WHAT’S important is having control over your thought processes,” GB Boxing performance psychologist Chris Marshall advises. “You understanding what you want to do, how to go about things and being really clear on yourself as an athlete and yourself as a human being.
“We can often find ourselves thinking something negative or challenging, this is completely normal, i.e. I’m worried about my opponent. What happens when this occurs is we start to engage in those thoughts and start to believe them.
“What’s really important is to notice those thoughts, not necessarily engage in those thoughts but ultimately look at bringing the control back to what are you going to do about it. Bring it back to this is what I want to do, this is how I’m going to go about it and these are my processes and my goals in order to achieve that.”