Billy Joe Saunders vs. Martin Murray on April.14 in London, UK
By Scott Gilfoid: As I predicted, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) will defend his title against fringe contender Martin Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs) on April 14 at the O2 in London, UK.
This is the ultimate play it safe call by Saunders to face an old timer like Murray, who has failed countless times in challenging for world titles. Murray has little to no punching power, he’s slow and he tends to cover up for long stretches during his fights rather than throw punches.
The slow-footed Murray has a mechanical way of fighting that makes him easy to beat. The main reason Murray loses when he faces better opposition is he spends most of the time hiding behind his clam-shell guard rather than throwing punches. It’s a dumb way of fighting, but Murray’s trainers haven’t weaned him off doing this.
You can argue that these contenders are far more deserving of a title shot against Saunders than Murray:
• Demetrius Andrade
• Daniel Jacobs
• Jermall Charlo
• Maciej Sulecki
Those guys have talent and they would have a good chance of beating Saunders. Hence, none of them were given the title shot for April 14. The frequently beaten Murray got the call instead. It’s kind of sad, really. Oh well, this is boxing.
Daniel Jacobs called out Saunders, but he was rejected by him. Saunders didn’t want that fight with the hard hitting Jacobs, which you can understand. Jacobs would have had a very good chance of beating Saunders. Murray is more like a weak-punching journeyman fighter, so he’s been given the fight. It’s a weak choice by Saunders to face Murray, but it’s so utterly predictable that it’s not even funny. Gilfoid saw this coming from a mile away. I knew Saunders would take an easy mark for his April 14 title defense, and sure enough, that’s what he’s done in selecting the aging Murray, who was beaten recently by George Groves in June 2016 in losing a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision. You can argue that Murray has lost 2 out of his last 4 fights, as his win over Gabriel Rosado last year in April was controversial in nature.
This is the safe fight that the 28-year-old Saunders wanted in order to stay the WBO champion long enough to potentially defend against the winner of the rematch between IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Those 2 still haven’t agreed to face each other on May 5, and it remains to be seen whether the fight can negotiated properly. It’s unclear whether Saunders will get the winner. If Saunders puts in another negative display of boxing like we saw in his recent title defense against David Lemieux last December, he might wind up losing any chance of getting the Canelo-GGG winner or even the loser of that fight. Canelo doesn’t care about winning titles, so Saunders’ WBO belt means nothing to him. Saunders’ only real chance of fighting the winner of that fight is if Golovkin wins, because he’s the one that values the WBO strap.
”Martin Murray is a good fighter and I have got the greatest of respect for him,” Saunders said. But he’s in the way of what I’m aiming for this year, and that is to become Undisputed Middleweight World Champion. He’s coming try and win my world title and I’m sure it’s going to be a good fight!”
Murray recently won a controversial 12 round majority decision over Gabriel Rosado last year in April 2017 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. Rosado appeared to win the fight by at least 4 rounds, but the judges somehow saw the hometown fighter Murray doing enough to win. Rosado was absolutely furious after the fight, storming around the ring, waving his hands around and looking none too pleased with the decision. Murray looked angry that Rosado wasn’t taking his controversial loss in a more reserved manner. Many boxing fans that saw the fight felt that Rosado was robbed. It was bad that Murray didn’t look to face Rosado in a rematch, because that fight begged for one. Murray is coming into his title fight with Saunders with the controversy from the Rosado fight following him like a skunk. That’s bad news. Since the ugly win, Murray came back and defeated little known Arman Torosyan (19-4-1, 16 KOs) by a 4th round knockout on September 16 last year. Torosyan is a 2nd tier fighter. He’s not ranked in the top 15.
These are the fighters Murray has fought in his last 5 fights:
– Arman Torosyan
– Gabriel Rosado
– Nuhu Lawal
– George Groves – 12 round unanimous decision loss for Murray
– Cedric Spera
The 35-year-old Murray will be getting his 5th world title shot in the last 7 years. As far as I can tell, no one in this era of boxing has had as many opportunities to fight for a world title and failed as many times as Murray. It’s kind of sad in a way. Murray keeps shots while other contenders that have done more to deserve the title shots are ignored. That says something about boxing, doesn’t it? Well, the last time Murray failed in a world title challenge was against former WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in losing to him by a 12 round split decision on November 21, 2015. Before that, Murray had lost to WBA middleweight champion Golovkin by an 11th round TKO on February 21, 2015.
In April 2014, Murray lost to former WBC World middleweight champion Sergio Martinez by a 12 round unanimous decision. Murray bellyached afterwards, saying he should have been given the win over Martinez. However, the judges noted that Murray spent most of the fight hiding behind his clam-shell defense, trying to block the countless shots that Martinez was hitting him with. Only sporadically Murray would come out from hiding to throw a few token punches. It was a wasted effort by Murray. The first time Murray fought for a world title was in December 2011 against former WBA Super World middleweight champion Felix Sturm. The fight was ruled a 12 round draw. Sturm landed head-snapping jabs all night long. Murray didn’t do anything in the fight until the final seconds. I saw the fight and I had Sturm winning by 9 rounds to 3. The scoring by the judges was atrocious in my opinion.
On the Saunders vs. Murray undercard, former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan will be battling Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO light welterweight title. This is the belt that Terence Crawford recently vacated before moving up to welterweight. It’s too bad Crawford still isn’t fighting at 140. It would be interesting to see Hooker or Flanagan face him.