By Barry Holbrook: Martin Murray isn’t underestimating the punching power of WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders for their fight this Friday night on December 4th. Murray, 38, and Saunders will be headlining on DAZN and Sky from the Wembley Arena in London, UK.
Murray (39-5-1, 17 KOs) has been in with a handful of good punchers in his career, and he’s lost to almost all of them, unfortunately. Saunders with his 48.28% KO percentage isn’t in the same class power-wise as the following former opponents of Murray:
- Gennady Golovkin
- Sergio Martinez
- Arthur Abraham
- Siarhei Khamitski
- George Groves
Martin Murray needs to take risks
Murray did surprisingly well in his fight against Sergio Martinez in April 2013, but this wasn’t the prime version of the former world.
Martinez had torn up his right knee in his fight in 2012 against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and when he returned a year later against Murry, his surgically repaired knee looked unstable and weak.
Nevertheless, Martinez still effortlessly outworked Murray, who spent most of the fight covering up behind his clamshell guard that he’d become known for.
If Murray had taken risks against Martinez by opening up his offense, he would have likely beat him. Martinez was there for the taking, but Murray fought too cautiously and gave away the fight.
“Billy Joe is that fast and that slick that there could be a few of them. I’m not going into the fight thinking I’m invincible or will be able to walk through his power,” said Murray to Sky Sports. “I know I’m going to have to take risks.”
“If you get punched in the face, it hurts. I don’t care who you are,” said Murray.
It would be a good idea for Murray not to get too hung up mentally in comparing Saunders’ power to his past opponents. Saunders is more of the type of fighter that will be looking to outbox Murray and make him look bad like he did with David Lemieux.
In Saunder’s last fight, he showed a rare glimpse of his power game when he rallied in the 11th round to stop little known Argentinian Marcelo Esteban Coceres.
Murray needs a knockout to win
Billy Joe was behind in the fight, and on his way to losing when he pulled out the victory with a storm of power punches in round eleven.
If Saunders falls behind against Murray on Friday night, he might not be able to rally to pull the victory. Murray has an excellent chin, and he’ll undoubtedly hold together if Saunders tries to get him out of there late.
If anyone has to worry about getting hurt, it’s Saunders. Murray can punch with either hand, and he’ll do well if Saunders wants to slug with him.
“I’ve been in with more fearsome punchers, but Billy Joe can obviously punch,” Murray said. “It’s the shots you don’t see that really hurt you. I know he hits hard. I know he’s got respect in his punches.”
It almost looks like Murray is lulling Saunders into a trap by smothering him with compliments about his lackluster punching power. You know how that game goes. If Murray gives Saunders enough praise about his power, he’s prone to come out swinging, and that will play into Martin’s hands.
His only chance of winning is if Saunders goes to war with him, and he can catch him with one of his sledgehammer blows.