Martin Murray: ‘Abraham is facing someone who wants it more’
A wise man once said, “In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.” Try telling that to Britain’s Martin Murray who will take on WBO super middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham in Hannover, Germany, on Saturday.
For the last four years, the only object Murray has pursued is a world title. The talented 33-year-old has challenged for three belts at 160 pounds and, on each occasion, there has been a sinister caveat attached. He faced Felix Sturm in Germany, for the WBA title, in a bout that was declared a draw and, the following year, was in Argentina against then-linear and RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who he dropped before losing a close decision.
Sturm in Germany and Martinez in Argentina. What could be worse? How about Gennady Golovkin in Monte Carlo? Hell, Murray (32-2-1, 15 knockouts) could have fought “GGG” in his own living room and it would still have been a living nightmare. An 11th-round-stoppage defeat to Golovkin convinced the Englishman to make the inevitable jump to super middleweight and he is 100 percent convinced that this will be a career-defining decision.
“Yeah, definitely, this is a weight I’ve always been comfortable at,” said Murray who is still bursting at the seams at 168 pounds. “I’ve said before, I stayed at middleweight because that’s where the opportunities were at that particular time.
“After the Gennady Golovkin fight, I weighed up my options and, even though I believe I could have won a title at 160 pounds, the best option was to move up. Hanging around for a couple of years for another shot at a middleweight title would have been depressing.”
Murray, who has scored three consecutive knockouts against moderate opposition since his move to super middleweight, insists that he’s hitting harder at the new weight and that his punch output has increased. He has also been extremely busy this year, a benefit the St. Helens man credits to his new promotional outfit.
“It was a great move for me to sign with Matchroom (Boxing),” said Murray of his switch to Eddie Hearn’s stable in June.
“Matchroom got me three fights in as many months and that’s the reason why I’m so confident going into this fight with Arthur Abraham. I started training in May and I think the maximum amount of time off I’ve had off is four days. My body is in great shape; I’ve had the longest camp of my career and I’m feeling great for it.”
As previously mentioned, Murray is no stranger to daunting away missions. No opponent is going to strike fear into his heart at this stage of his career and that includes German-based power-puncher Arthur Abraham (43-4, 29 KOs). THE RING No. 1 at 168 pounds is as tough as they come; however, the challenger feels this one comes down to desire.
Murray said, “I definitely need to be wary of Abraham’s power because he’s a big, strong man and I’ve got to be focused for the full 12 rounds. I also need to be aware of his experience because, even though I’ve been involved in big fights, he’s been at the top of his game for a lot longer.
“However, I do think Abraham’s work rate has slowed in the last few years, so I’ll be looking to exploit that. There’s no way I can afford to steal rounds in Germany and, although he’s looked good in his last two fights, Abraham is facing someone who wants it more than he does.”
Abraham was criticized for selecting Paul Smith as an opponent until the Englishman turned in an inspired display in a losing effort in September of last year. However, a dominant decision win in the rematch and a sixth-round stoppage over long-time rival Robert Stieglitz have convinced many doubters that the German-based Armenian has more left to give.
“He’s got himself in tip-top shape for this one and must be confident of winning because he didn’t have to take this fight,” Murray said.
“Regardless, he’s not fitter than me; he doesn’t train harder than me and I don’t think he’s hungrier than me. On November 21, at my natural fighting weight, I’ll prove that I’m a better fighter than Arthur Abraham and establish myself as one of the best super middleweights in the world.”
Despite having moved on to pastures new, Murray still keeps a keen eye on his old middleweight stomping ground and sounded genuinely excited about Miguel Cotto versus Canelo Alvarez, which also takes place on Saturday. That said, he couldn’t resist having a pop at the sport’s on-and-off love affair with catchweight contests.
“I think Canelo wins,” said Murray when asked for his thoughts on the 155-pound showdown, which takes place in Las Vegas. “For me, the weight favors him because he’s the naturally bigger man. Cotto has terrific ring craft; there’s no denying that but I just have the feeling that Canelo is going to do it.
“What I will say is that whoever wins should allow future middleweight opponents to weigh in at 160 pounds. If the champion wants to weigh less then, fair enough, but don’t hold the division to ransom like Cotto did with Daniel Geale (157 pound catchweight bout). Expecting true middleweights to cut extra pounds is making a mockery of the sport.”
What you see is what you get with Martin Murray and the WBO super middleweight title challenger was habitually honest when giving a prediction for his own attempt at glory.
He said, “Let’s be honest; it looks almost impossible to knock out Abraham; he’s only been taken out of a fight on cuts or disqualification. If I thought I had to stop Arthur Abraham to win this world title, then I wouldn’t be going over there. I’m ready to go the distance and give it to him for 12 hard rounds.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.