Although he has fought for a world title before, British middleweight Martin Murray says without a doubt, Saturday’s WBC title bout against Sergio Martinez is by far the biggest fight of his career.
That last world title shot was against Felix Sturm at his home turf in Germany. The result was a disappointing draw for Murray in a fight many felt he won. That serves as the only professional fight he has not won in 26 tries. The experience in Germany should help him as he prepares to take on Martinez in his native country of Argentina in front of an expected crowd of 50,000.
“I know what I’ve got to do, just like I did with Sturm,” Murray said, “but I left it a bit too close, but it was a learning experience. I imagine it being very hostile [come Saturday], chanting him, booing me, but I’ve got myself mentally prepared for that. I’ve imagined what it will be like and I’m ready for it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Murray has faced some accomplished fighters, but none like the pound-for-pound superstar he faces in Martinez. The fact that Martinez is a southpaw is only one of the numerous problems he presents his opponents. His unusual style (hands often down at his waist) and athleticism (exceptional movement and hand speed) were all elements Murray and his team were forced to try to duplicate in sparring.
“We got a lot of different southpaws in sparring, all boxers with little traits and tricks to show how awkward he was,” noted Murray. “We’ve gotten the sparring to be similar, but his style is unique. It wasn’t exactly spot on, but somewhere between all the different sparring partners, we got what we needed and we got the sparring right.”
Despite that preparation, Murray admits, “I’ve never fought anyone remotely like Martinez.”
Murray knows the gravity of this opportunity and what pulling off the upset would do for his career, and most importantly, for his family.
“It would mean everything for me and for my family. I’ve made no lies and say that boxing is my job and my way of providing for my family. I want to be in big fights and a win would secure big fights for me in the future. I have great support around me and it’d be great for me to be world champion and Britain’s first.”
The fact that he is a large underdog and facing one of the best fighters in the world on his home turf does not phase Murray. He says it is business as usual and in a fight that is drawing interest from several continents, he is ready to shock the world.
“A lot of people are writing me off, but they’re going to see a difference.”
Martinez vs. Murray can be seen on HBO Boxing Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET