Martin Murray is a man familiar with adversity and setbacks and never giving in. His never-say-die attitude evident in overcoming troubles inside and outside the ring.
The hard man from St Helen’s arrived into our unforgiving sport down a well-trodden path. At 24-years-old, Murray had served four sentences at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and claimed a welterweight amateur title while on the run from the police.
“It was jail, dying or boxing and I chose boxing,” he told The Guardian, reflecting on those troublesome days. At his lowest ebb, Murray endured more than a month in a notorious Cypriot prison following an altercation on holiday.
Paying in time behind bars for his indiscretions, Murray regained his freedom in 2007 and returned to the boxing gym determined that he would not be defined by his mistakes.
Teaming up with manager Steve Wood and trainer Oliver Harrison, Murray mowed through the middleweight rankings, claiming British and Commonwealth straps. He also shot to prominence by winning the now discontinued Sky series Prizefighter.
Burying his chequered past under each victory and each success, Murray emerged as a matured and dogged front foot fighter capable of mixing it with anyone at 160lbs. His shots at world glory would come, but not before his past came back to administer an unwelcome bite.
WBC King Julio Chavez Jr – another man that’s struggled to keep on the straight and narrow between fights – was set to defend his crown against Murray in his native Mexico. But the fight scheduled for June 2012 was thrown into jeopardy by Murray’s rap sheet delaying his Visa. The authorities failed to rubber-stamp his passage to North America in time for press duties and the fight was off.
Murray said: “To be told I cannot box Chavez Jr because of my past is gut-wrenching. I couldn’t have done any more to turn my life around over the last seven years and I hope the fight can still happen at a later date.”
The fight never materialised. Instead, his entry onto the world stage came in Germany against fan favourite Felix Sturm. Written off in most quarters, Murray put in a career-best performance, earning a controversial draw. Many thought he’d won. Many knew he’d need to rip the title off the German in Germany to be in with a shout on the scorecards.
The middleweight challenger travelled to Argentina to face a fading Sergio Martinez for his second title challenge. After a slow start, he dropped the former pound-for-pound great, shocking the partisan crowd. But echoeing that night in Germany, the scorecards favoured the home fighter.
In 2015 he answered the call that many swerved by locking in a fight with the heavy-handed Gennady Golovkin. Murray showed heart and bravery, returning from the canvas to force the feared Kazakh beyond the 10th stanza for the first time in his career. The official waved the fight off in the 11th as Murray became a glutton for punishment.
It wasn’t to be fourth time lucky for the 35-year-old as he dropped a split decision to the WBO super middleweight champ Arthur Abraham in Germany. In a familiar scenario, he looked to have done enough to realise his dream of becoming champion, only to be let down by questionable scoring.
Murray was slated to challenge for his fifth world title on Saturday night at London’s O2 arena against the rejuvenated Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders, who’s recently strung together an impressive run of victories, pulled out twice citing injuries to his hand and hamstring. Murray now faces late replacement Mexican Roberto Garcia.
“A good win against Garcia will put me in a strong position with the WBC, so there’s everything to fight for. It has been a frustrating period of my career, and I’ll be taking my anger out on Garcia on June 23 before moving on to even bigger fights,” said Murray, who’s due a change in luck.
Source: Frank Warren [Press Release]