It’s easy to knock British boxing sometimes – the American scene has more money, TV coverage and hype around its up and coming fighters certainly. But for anyone that was watching boxing this weekend in Britain you had good cause to feel very good about what we are producing – Stateside in the heavily touted light middleweight contest between Paul ‘the punisher’ Williams and Kermit Cintron turned out to be an appalling snooze fest at best, and that was until Cintron tripped and fell through the ropes and the fight was waived off! This was prize fighting at its worst.
By contrast John Murray’s decidedly more low-key fight in Widnes against Gary Buckland provided eleven brutal rounds of blood, sweat and heart. There wasnt even a world title at stake here, Murray’s British and Lonsdale titles were on the line and the European title was up for grabs but both fighters gave far more than required in the brutality stakes for mere belts or money.
John Murray’s career has been at times a slow burner, at 25 he has suffered from inactivity over the last year and has seen proposed opponents fall by the wayside. Such obvious frustrations have masked the real talent Murray possesses though – he is a throw back fighter, a tough, brawling hard man who comes to the ring with a look of pure concentrated intent to break apart his opposition. Murray reminds me often of Ricky Hatton – there is something in the way he goes about his business, the come forward attacking, the body shots the rough and tough style that has many a shade of Hatton about it. Murray trains at Hatton’s old Manchester gym too – under new owner Joe Gallagher, but with the Hatton glory days conditioner Kerry Kayes.
World title honours await Murray if he continues to dismantle his foes in the style of his recent fights, I personally feel he has been dreadfully promoted – he has the style and fan base to really become a popular hero from that home of heros Manchester, but all too often he has languished on small shows in far-flung Northern places. Murray has brought us some fine nights of boxing though – he retired Jon Thaxton, wrecked Lee McAllister on a body shot (see the video above) and has won all 26 of his fights inside the distance.
Here is hoping Murray can continue his winning streak and move into world title contention. The lightweight division is packed with talent at domestic and world level – from Juan Manuel Marquez to Kevin Mitchell, but I believe Murray can shine. One thing is for certain as long as Murray turns up you can guarentee a cracking fight. For Manchester fighters Ricky Hatton has blased the path for brawlers, perhaps John Murray can follow in such popular footsteps over time.
The road to world title honours is a long one in boxing, Kevin “the hammer” Mitchell knows this perhaps as well as anyone prize fighting today.
At 31 straight wins (23 by KO) and no defeats you could argue rightly that he should have had his day in the sun quite some time ago.
Overshadowed by his previous stable mate – the chinny wonder Amir Khan, Mitchell did things the hard way – grinding out win after win against tough opposition. He didn’t always make it easy for himself though – always keen to have a war when a fight would suffice, Mitchell frequently traded power shots in the center of the ring and relied on brute strength and a concrete chin to get him through. Those of us that saw his 2008 fight against fellow Brit Carl Johanneson can perhaps recall just how difficult Mitchell could make a fight.
Mitchell really came of age though in his fight against Breidis Prescott – the teak tough Colombian knockout artist that destroyed Amir Khan in the opening seconds of their fight. For every opponent Khan has called out since you never hear him mention for a moment a rematch with Prescott. Mitchell was clearly making a statement with this fight and what a statement it was. For every minute of every round Mitchell resisted his previous form of storming in and banging a win out, instead he boxed beautifully – the sweet science in full flow. He went out and kept to the game plan his new trainer Jimmy Tibbs had designed and it worked in spades for him.
Kevin Mitchell dismantles Amir Khan's conqueror the Colombian brawler Breidis Prescott
Mitchell could always box though – I saw him way back when at York Hall, Bethnal Green and despite his obvious power and chin he had all the skills in raw form - more often than not he just chose not to use them! In his last outing Mitchell took apart another Colombian fighter – Ignacio Mendoza, lifting him off the floor with a sharp right hand in the 2nd round to close the show. Mitchell’s throws punches with ‘bad intentions’ as Mike Tyson used to call it and in boxing that’s an asset if you can back it up with real power, which Mitchell has.
On May 15th 2010 Mitchell will finally get his world title shot, on home turf at Upton Park. His opponent is seasoned brawler and tough man Michael Katsidis. Katsidis is genuinely world-class - he’s been in with Juan Diaz and Joel Casamayor and although losing to both he was by no means a walk over. Katsidis is guaranteed to come out guns blazing but I’m picking Mitchell to have far too much for the Australian and I see him stopping Katsidis to take the title. This is going to be a sensational fight – I’m going to be there to see it and I can’t wait.
For now he is in his last outing against Mendoza: