TIME and again it would have been easy for Martin Murray to turn back. He has progressed through a long career of professional fighting, always pursuing his goal of winning a world title. He has hit roadblocks he couldn’t overcome: Gennady Golovkin in Monaco, Sergio Martinez in Argentina and both Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham in Germany.
It would have been tempting to despair years ago. Often when just driving to the gym, he wanted to take another road. But he persisted. “Because I’ve always been on a mission to win this world title. But there have been times throughout the years where it’s been hard. Mentally it’s been hard picking myself up off that couch, picking myself up when I’ve had the knockbacks. It’s been hard driving down the motorway thinking what the f**k am I doing here going training? Just wanting to turn off at every junction but I’ve forced myself to go. I’ve made myself get there and I’ve thought just keep going, just get the gym and you’ll be alright,” Murray tells Boxing News. “Just saying get to the gym and you’ll be alright and you get to the gym and it is alright.”
He had almost given up on the dream. But out of the sport’s most difficult year, Murray gets another, unexpected chance. On Friday (December 4), behind closed doors at Wembley Arena, he will challenge Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO super-middleweight title.
“What’s inspiring me and motivating me is the fact that I’ve got this chance now to prove that all them times where I’ve been battling with myself, that it’s been for a reason. I’ve always believed, when no one else has. I know so many people have written me off but I’ve always had belief in myself, I’ve always believed in myself and I truly feel that this is the reason why and next Friday I’m going to prove it, that all you need is that little bit of luck and little bit of belief in yourself to make it. I’m ready for it. I’m under no illusions about how difficult the fight is going to be. But I’m confident going into the fight and I’m ready to give it my all. I’m just glad I’ve got the chance to go in there and leave it all in the ring. And that’s what I’m going to do,” Murray said.
“I’ve had failures before and every time I’ve failed I’ve been a step closer to success. If you don’t fail at something, you’re not aiming high enough. I’ve always put myself in a big fight against the hardest opposition. Don’t get me wrong, if it had come in easier way, like Billy Joe had had it, it would be happy days. Some people do it the easy route and good on them, some people do it the hard route. I’ve had to do it the hard way. But it is what it is and it’s all got me ready for this fight. So I’m ready and I’m looking forward to it.”
For him this means the world. Murray’s finally got a world title fight at home. “It’s all up to me now,” he said. “The reason I’ve struggled for all these years, for getting world title fights and why I’ve always gone abroad fighting, being sent over as cannon fodder, Martinez, Sturm, Abraham and I never really got that world title fight at home. They’ve always been abroad because you know when you fight me you’re in for a hard fight. For a world title fight you’re in for a hard tough 12 rounds. Nobody wants that really do they? Having said that, I’ve got to respect Billy Joe for taking the fight.”
There is though a sense of unfinished business between the two. Twice in 2018 Murray was meant to fight Saunders but it fell through on each occasion. Murray now sees it as an advantage. He’s had three training camps to prepare to tackle Saunders. “It’s just about using all my experience that I’ve gained in all my fights and training camps and putting it to good use and putting it into the right plan next Friday when we fight,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as hard as I’ve envisioned it for myself but I’ve still got it in my head that it’s going to be a tricky, difficult and possibly frustrating fight. It’s one of them where I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically for it in any way that I can.
“There’s no pressure on me. So I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
It’s been a long journey but finally Martin Murray has everything to win.