Martin Murray put his recent frustrations behind him, claiming the WBC silver middleweight title from Mexican Robert Garcia at The O2 Arena in London.
The St Helens fighter is on course for a fifth shot at a World title, moving one step closer to challenging for Gennady Golovkin’s WBC title.
In what was a scrappy affair, 38-year-old Garcia fell foul of the referee on several instances, and was deducted a point in the second round for a blatant low blow.
Murray, however, produced the better boxing skills throughout – including consistent success to the body – to edge out his agricultural opponent in some close sessions.
As the fight progressed, the referee remained a prominent figure, issuing Garcia with a warning in the sixth for leading with the head, before deducting another point for rabbit punching in the ninth.
Following an altercation at Friday’s weigh-in between the pair, the bad blood was evident throughout, with both fighters exchanging low blows up until the final bell.
With the referee seemingly unable to give clear instructions and keep a lid on a volatile encounter, an argument would break out between both trainers immediately following the conclusion of the bout.
Despite engaging in a messy contest, Murray secured a deserved unanimous decision with scores of 116-111 118-109 118-108 and remains poised to challenge for World honours following a turbulent time of late.
Now in possession of the WBC silver title, Murray will be required to make once successful defence of his title in order to become the mandatory challenger for the WBC World middleweight crown: which, of course, is held by former opponent and divisional kingpin Gennady Golovkin.
Murray had originally been slated to challenge WBO World champion Billy Joe Saunders. However, the bout was postponed not once – but twice – with Saunders pulling out of their initial March date with a hand injury, before withdrawing once again due to an issue with his hamstring.
Following his victory, Murray said he would be willing to fight the Hatfield man: but only if there was a guarantee he would be paid in case Saunders pulled out again.
“You cannot trust the man, he has done it twice so for me to do it again there would have to be some insurance in place.” said Murray in his post-fight interview.
“He loves being the World champion: but does not defend his belts. If there was insurance in place I would fight him and take him to school.”
Having fallen short on four previous occasions – with his only convincing defeat coming at the hands of the aforementioned Golovkin in 2015 – Murray insisted that he still believed that he would one day capture World honours.
“I do believe there is a World title in me. I just need the right fight at the right time.” he finished.
Elsewhere, the undercard saw a succession of stoppage wins from some of the best young talent Britain has to offer – including a savage, highlight reel knockout from Hackney super lightweight Ohara Davies.
Having originally been scheduled to face Josh Leather, before Leather withdrew from the bout at the eleventh hour, Davies challenged Paul Kamanga for Kamanga’s WBC International title.
Despite a busy opener from the visitor, the superior strength and accuracy of Davies came to the fore in spectacular style in an explosive second round.
Approaching the end of the session, Davies – dubbed ‘Two Tanks’ due to his ability to punch with either hand – uncorked a monstrous right hand, stiffening Kamanga’s legs and sending him crumbling to the canvas.
Despite bravely attempting to beat the count, Kamanga was saved further punishment by the referee, handing Davies the victory in the process.
The win keeps Davies firmly in the title picture at 140lbs, with a bout with newly-crowned WBO champion Maurice Hooker mooted in recent days for the Londoner.
Anthony Yarde became the first man to stop Dariusz Sek with an impressive seventh-round stoppage over the southpaw.
Entering the contest as a heavy favourite, Yarde looked as if he was going to have an early night in the opener, after a solid left hand forced Sek to touchdown for the first time in his career.
However, Yarde instead chose to systematically break his opponent down, using the threat of his sharp right hand to dominate and walk down his opponent.
Round by round Sek began to feel the pace, sporting some facial damage at the hands of the punishment administered by Yarde’s precision punching.
After referee Steve Grey warned Sek’s corner in-between rounds that he would stop the fight if the Pole continued to take unanswered blows, the 31-year-old bravely came out in an attempt to stem the flow.
However the relentless nature of Yarde’s fearsome power-punches ultimately brought a somewhat-inevitable end to proceedings in round seven, with Grey stepping in to hand Yarde his 15th sto
Following another successful defence of his WBO European and Intercontinental titles, Yarde – according to promoter Frank Warren – will be looking at competing at European or even World title in the near future.
After the fight, recently-retired David Haye said of Yarde:
“He has knockout power in both hands… every department he impressed me in.”
“He looks the full package – he fights as good as he looks!” Haye finished.
After recent criticism surrounding his level of opposition, Yarde remained bullish when asked who he will face next in his post-fight interview.
“I’d fight anybody.” said Yarde.
“People are turning me down and I know that for a fact!”
Heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois was crowned the new English heavyweight champion, after scoring a fifth-round stoppage over a very game Tom Little.
Dubois appeared calm from the opening round, walking his man down behind the threat of his notoriously heavy handed power shots.
Despite cruising through the early stages, hurting Little at regular intervals, Dubois was forced to work to find his openings in round four.
However, find them he did, unloading power shots to the head before switching to the body of Little, dropping him to the canvas and forcing him to go into survival-mode after dragging himself to his feet.
Little – whose pre-fight antics seemed to anger the usually stoic Dubois – showed true grit and determination in continuing, fighting back gamely until Referee Terry O’Connor waved the fight off 58 seconds in to the fifth round.
The bout represented a new challenge for Dubois, after being extended into the fourth round for the first time in his career against a durable, determined opponent.
With Dubois making all the right noises in the thriving domestic heavyweight scene, post-fight talk immediately turned to a potential fight with fellow British heavyweight – and stablemate – Nathan Gorman.
Article by: Emmily Simcock
You can follow Emmily on Twitter at: @emmily_jane