One of the reasons Martin Murray made it to the ring on what was supposed to be his wedding day weekend was the promise to his wife that he would be walking down the aisle as WBA (super) middleweight world champion.
He did not fulfil that promise but I am sure he will be forgiven as he put in a world champion performance; he matched Felix Sturm in every department in Manheim, Germany. Some would argue he edged it but to win a close-fought title fight in Germany is a hard ask, just ask Matthew Macklin.
French judge Jean-Fracois Toupin scored the fight 116-112 in a baffling result; I question how long he has been known as Jean more suited to the name Jann. The other two judges scored a little wiser, one had Murray up 115-113 while the other scored the bout 114-114, the match ending as a draw to the disappointment of everyone. The reaction from Ricky Hatton promotions: “Well we are in Germany.”
Sturm took the bout instead of a rematch with Macklin which some thought should have been the fight given how close the Irishman came. Two Brit’s have gone to Germany and two have come back empty handed, so how do you beat Sturm? Do you get him out of Germany or when it gets to the eighth round do you not let up?
That’s the round where Murray started to pose his threat, it had been a close first seven rounds. Where both sides could argue that they were edging it. The first few rounds were cagey as Murray tried to settle into some kind of rhythm. You would guess, as the home fighter, Sturm would be rewarded the majority of them cagey rounds but after that Murray showed why he got his chance dominating the middle rounds leading up to the big round that was the eighth. It was Murray’s biggest round where he seemed to rock Sturm. To the German’s credit he hung in there and came back in the ninth even stronger but Murray dealt with his power well.
Murray again battled his way through, in the tenth, as both men took turns to throw flurries. The Englishman seemed to throw the bigger punches but Sturm always threatened especially as he broke the Brit’s guard on a number of occasions. It was very close going into that final round and Murray would argue for the main part he had done what he did in rounds eight and 10 as he got the better of the trades. The German showed why he was the champion in the final 30 seconds almost finishing the fight. A powerful right sent Murray wobbling 10 seconds before the bell, if the shot had come any sooner in the round their might have not been a decision to make.
The Hatton protégé can hold his head high coming away from Germany, there will be subsequent calls for a rematch but after Macklin I highly doubt it will happen. Sturm didn’t expect Murray to pose the threat he did and would the German really knowingly risk losing his belt? The right thing to do would be getting these two back in the ring in the spring, I am sure Murray would take another chance for nothing, well expenses, Germany can be pretty costly.
Murray felt aggrieved but left in good spirits before a daunting trip to the Caribbean, not because of his life sentence, I mean marriage, but his fear of flights, he said before his journey, “We thought we won but I didn’t do enough to rip away his title from him in his own back yard. When it goes the distance here it’s expected. I always known I am world class today I finally had the opportunity to prove it.”
Hatton himself believed the wrong decision was made, “I am very proud of him, today he was world class, it was fantastic achievement for him to get this shot after 20 fights. Personally I thought he won it and Jim Watt (Sky Sports commentator) had it spot on by one round, but hey we are in Germany.”
Murray’s performance adds to the great depth in the division coming out of Britain. This year Macklin and Darren Barker have come close to winning world titles, both coming away with their heads held high. Christmas will be a period for the three to lick their wounds and continue with their onslaught on the world’s best in 2012. A British middleweight trilogy may also be around the corner.