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Terry Dooley's exclusive interview with John Murray follows this news, but the Mancunian has lost his British lightweight title on the scales at today's weigh-in for his scheduled defence against Scott Lawton.
Murray only missed the 9st 9lbs limit by fractions of an ounce but a misunderstanding meant that the fighter and his trainer Joe Gallagher were left with no time to get the weight off.
"That's the trouble with trying to get fighters to the top of their weight," said a devastated Gallagher. "Inactivity is a big key to this but I'm not making excuses.
"The scales were on thick carper, rather than flat wood and they said he had to be 61.26 kilos. He was 61.34 but it kept flickering between 61.28 and 61.34.
"We had a misunderstanding then we were stuck in traffic so we'd already used up our cut-off time.
"It's taken the wind right out of John's sails which is worrying. Things like this make the fight more even.
We just hope that if John wins, him against thaxton goes on for the vacant title now."
What follows is Terry's interview with Murray from earlier in the week.
John Murray, 26-0 (14), goes into Saturday's Robin Park Arena showdown against Scott Lawton, 26-4-1 (5), with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Despite his staccato recent fight schedule Murray's name has been kept alive in the boxing trade, as he is constantly linked to fights with Amir Khan and Jon Thaxton. A British champion, Murray now has to force his way into the big fight picture. The fight against Lawton will be a good yardstick for his progress, as both Khan and Thaxton have defeated Scott.
Murray finished off his sparring with four brisk rounds against the tough Peter McDonagh, and then enthused about his latest training camp.
“I am buzzing, training has gone really well and I'm looking forward to the fight," he said. "Me and Scott have sparred in the past, we know each other quite well, and that seems to bring out the best in me, judging by my Lee Meager performance [Murray hammered friend and former sparring partner Meager to defeat in five rounds last year]. I want to make a big statement and put myself forward for the big fights that are out there.
“I really want to impress and have prepared to do a number on Scott. If I lose on Saturday the big fights go out of the window, this is what I've been working hard for over these six years, and I will be on form on Saturday. I feel close to producing my best.”
Six months have passed since Murray's win over Lee McAllister. During that time John was in and out of the gym. Surely this was detrimental to his training pattern?
“It took me a while to get going," he conceded. "But I didn't know what was going on. This fight was on and off, Mick [Hennessey] eventually gave me a date and I just went for it in training. I couldn't have asked for better sparring, I am in really good nick.
“The last couple of fights I haven't looked forward to as much because I felt that I wasn't at my peak yet; for this one I feel that I'm coming to my best and will be making a statement on Saturday.”
Thaxton versus Murray is a much anticipated fight. It should have happened last year, when Jon was the EBU champion and Murray the newly crowned British kingpin. They are both promoted by Mick Hennessey, and they both want the fight. Murray still hankers after Thaxton's scalp, and is certain that the fight will be made should he prevail in Wigan on Saturday.
“Thaxton is going to happen in September, then all going well I will get a European title shot,” he said.
Murray sounded confident when discussing the Thaxton fight, shrugging off claims that the Norwich man would be his toughest test to date.
“Jon hasn't been that good in recent fights," he claimed. "He was slow and ran out of ideas after a few rounds in his last fight. He has done that in his last few performances, against guys like Dave Stewart and Scott Lawton. Thaxton struggles with the pace but is experienced enough to get through the fight. I will be too young, too fresh, and I don't think he will be able to keep me off.”
Anthony Mezaache outpointed Jon in February to claim the European title; Murray immediately turned his sights on the Frenchman, and thinks that Mezaache will be a real test of his credentials.
“I thought he was very clever against Jon," he praised. "He wasn't the biggest of punchers but his boxing was nice, he worked Thaxton over by throwing quick flurries and then moving out of range. I think it was clever the way he spat his gumshield out as well [when floored by Thaxton]. If he hadn't he would have been out of there; that shows the brains of him. He kept it together and kept the awareness about him to recover and keep himself in the fight, and he went on to win it.
“I think I would beat the kid, it would be a tough fight but one I could win.”
In the meantime there is the Lawton potential banana skin. Scott is a tough fighter. He had a lot to prove after losses to Khan and Thaxton, and prove himself he did, beating the in-form Martin Gethin to secure a shot at John's title. Murray expects Lawton to really test him.
“I am focussed on this fight, really looking forward to it," he said. "Wigan has been a great hunting ground for me, I have put in some strong performances there and am looking for a hat-trick of wins, and three straight knockouts.
"I expect Lawton to be my toughest fight so far; he is on a great run, he is really confident and he will think he can win this fight, which will bring out the best in him. I know he is here to win, has dreams of winning this British title, and I have to make sure that I don't let him take it.”
Indeed, Lawton gave up his English title in 2007, allowing Murray to fight Dean Hickman for the vacant belt, Murray's first domestic title win. Murray was keen to return the favour, and was happy when he heard that Scott would be getting this fight.
“Yeah, Scott gave up the belt to give me a chance and out of all the people in the top ten Lawton is the best, and deserves this title shot for his effort," Murray explained. "He beat Gethin and fought Thaxton for the British title; Lawton sees this as his big chance.”
Khan stopped Lawton in four rounds; Thaxton stopped him on a cut in seven; Murray, though, is not looking at this as a comparison fight, as he believes that Scott is a different fighter these days.
“I don't think about comparisons between me and Khan," he said. "Scott was a bit overawed fighting Khan, he will be little bit wiser coming into this one as he knows what to expect. He is used to these smaller-hall shows and knows that this is his last chance. Scott will have trained hard and is fight-fit because he has been kept busy. He will be up for this.”
Murray's optimism has been boosted by a frank discussion with Mick Hennessey; the two men have cleared the air, with John being given assurances that he will be kept busy in the coming months. This is what Murray wanted to hear. He knows that a busy fighter is a good fighter, and he wants to remind people of what he is about come fight night.
“I fight, and then don't fight for a while, and I think that people forget who I am," he mused. "I want to go out there in this fight, explode into life, and really make a statement to remind people of who I am, and what I am about.”
Boxing News 04 April 2013
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