Back in December 2nd last year, an unsung yet undefeated British middleweight took the much heralded Felix Sturm the full 12 rounds in Germany for the WBA championship of the world, earning a draw in the process. Martin Murray (23 (10)-0-1), who fights out of St. Helens under Ricky Hatton’s blossoming ‘Hatton Promotions’ banner cancelled his Caribbean wedding to make the fight with Sturm, and was straight back on the plane in the aftermath on the next flight to meet his wife on board a lavish cruise. Inconvenient for some you would presume; juggling the most important and happiest day of his life with perhaps the biggest and brutal night of his boxing career. After the performance of his career thus far, Murray is enjoying married life, and is now eager to push on, as he revealed to Undisputed in a latest interview.
‘’It’s just the same. I’ve been with my wife now a long time. We’ve got two kids and we’ve been living together for three years so there’s no change really. It’s good.’’
‘’At the minute I’m just ticking over. I’ve just competed my seventh week training and I’m getting ready for 21st April. When the time comes, things will get stepped up (training). I’m in the gym every morning and Ollie’s (Oliver Harrison) always got something different for me to do. We step up in regards to sparring and we incorporate strength work twice a week and I spend Saturday and Sunday off at the minute. We run at night every now and again.’’
‘’When I go into a fight its Oliver who gets me prepared and I’m just boxing to orders. I’m the one doing it but Oliver’s the one with the master plan, so full credit goes to him.’’
Charming and unassuming, it’s easy to perceive Martin Murray as one of boxing’s nice guys – Martin’s main motivation is keeping his family happy and this is all the motivation he needs. When he described his introduction into boxing, he remembered his childhood town as a real fighting area where it was almost customary to lace up the gloves.
‘’Where I’m from in St. Helens, a lot of people have done boxing over the years. I took it up partly because of my old amateur trainer, John Chisnall who died in 2005. He was very passionate about boxing and getting young kids into the gym and changing lives so, it was all down to him, really. I went to the gym when I was seven, before joining my best mate at the gym properly when I was ten and I’ve never looked back.’’
‘’When I was growing up it was Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed and people like that – It was always Nigel Benn for me. All the excitement he brought to the ring – he was just a true warrior. I’d also say Julio Cesar Chavez, (Chavez Junior’s Father) I loved watching him as well. Even now I still like going back and watching him.’’
‘’As time goes on, you start achieving more goals. When I turned professional, my main aim was winning the British title. I didn’t want to set my sights too high because you just never know what boxing can bring you. For me it was just about that British title and getting on telly. Now it’s about getting a world title because we feel we belong at world level and we’ve shown that so the next step is definitely the world title.’’
Murray fell agonisingly short of becoming only the second British world champion at the time alongside Nathan Cleverly, (Ricky Burns was named WBO Lightweight king just weeks later) turning in a brilliant performance taking the renowned Felix Sturm to a decision where both men came away with a draw. Being a born and bred a fighting man – Martin takes Felix’s apparent disinterest of a rematch as a compliment to his own threat, but he remains discontent with the draw despite his heroics.
‘’I was happy I never lost but I was gutted I never won. It was neither here nor there. Looking back at the fight there’s obviously things I could have done different – it was the first time I was at that level and going that distance, I’ve done it before but then it was all at my own pace. I didn’t want to put everything in so early, fade in the second half of the fight and get knocked out. I should have and could have injected the pace a bit more by giving it to him a bit more than I did. It was a good learning experience for me on the whole and I’ll know what to do next time.’’
‘’He never even entertained us (for a rematch). He never even brought us up when considering his next fight. He knew that he weren’t hurting me in there and he knew I’m only going to get better whereas he’s perhaps on the slide now and he’s only got a couple more fights in him. He knew it was a risk and I genuinely believe I would have beaten him had we fought again.’’
Most observers saw Sturm’s late barrage in the closing seconds as earning the German a draw, not too dissimilar to Mathew Macklin who also came under attack in the closing stages of their fight back in March 2011.
‘’Turning it on in the last 20 seconds shouldn’t win you fights. I don’t agree with it but that’s what is working for him over there in Germany.’’
‘’Me and Oliver and the team have known for a long time I’m world class and we just needed a chance to prove it. We got that chance against Sturm. It was a massive leap up but we definitely showed that we belong at that level.’’
The name Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (45(30)-0) has been getting British boxing fans excited of late when it come up as a potential foe for the talented Middleweight though it is all just rumour, and while tongues continue to wag about opponents for a 21st April date and the rest of 2012, Martin himself emphasises that he sticks to what he does best, boxing.
‘’It’s been mentioned. I leave everything up to my team; I’ve got a manager who I trust with my life and he’s dealing with the Hatton’s (Hatton Promotions) for the boxing matchmaking so all I’ve got to do is focus on my training. They all know that I’ll fight anybody. Apparently Chavez Jr. has been saying it? It could happen but we’ll just have to wait and see what materialises. I’ve been training a long time since my last fight. I think they are trying that many different things and going down that many different avenues that they don’t tell me potential opponents because if they did I wouldn’t know where my head is.’’
‘’My career’s really took off since I’ve been with the Hatton’s they’ve got me the big fights and they’ve got me the title’s that I’ve got. I’m happy with Hatton Promotions it’s just a great team to be part of. Ricky’s very experienced and he’s become a friend. He had me on the pads this week in the gym and he was showing me a few techniques that he thinks could help me improve as a fighter. He’s always there for advice and he’s hands on with us all and I think it can only benefit me.’’
‘’It’s just about what’s there for me this year. There was some talk of a domestic fight and there are some good names in Britain, but we all seem to be going down our own routes in search of world titles. My goal is fighting for a world title because that’s my main aim but for 2012 I just want to be involved in some good fights. There are some great fights out there so hopefully they can get sorted for me.’’