By Jackie Kallen
Martin Murray, a basically unknown middleweight from the UK is putting it all on the line this weekend on HBO down in Argentina when he shoots for Sergio Martinez’s WBC title. The 30-year old has never fought outside of Europe and going to Argentina is a brave move. He will be stepping into enemy territory.
With an undefeated record of 25-0, Murray is hoping he has what it takes to bring down the 38 year-old champ. His opponents are, for the most part, unfamilar to US fans. But he did get a draw again Felix Sturm in late 2011 in Sturm’s native Germany.
Martinez, on the other hand, is being treated as royalty in Argentina. Everyone from President Cristina de Kirchner down to the average man on the street is acting like the Worlds Fair is coming to town. Not since Carlos Monzon have the people in Argentina been so excited about a boxer.
Not since he lost a close fight to Paul Williams in 2009 has he looked vulnerable. Few even remember his KO loss to Margarito back in 2000 in Las Vegas. But that was another Martinez. He was younger, less experienced and has never fought outside of Argentina.
As a southpaw, with more than 50% of his opponents succumbing to his punching power, Martinez clearly has the edge. He has faced the stronger opposition and has the hometown crowd on his side. Murray has his work cut out for him. He can ask Austin Trout what it’s like to walk out to a sea of boos.
Lucas Browne is facing an uphill battle, also, when he squares off against a 45-year old James Toney. Only the odds are in his favor. For one thing, Brown will be on his own turf in Melbourne. For another thing, he is 11 years younger and almost a half foot taller. Add to the equation that Brown has KOed 14 of the 15 men he has faced.
Besides the age and size advantage, many boxing fans feel that Toney has left his best days in the past. He has looked slightly puffy and slower in his most recent bouts. But when Toney is ON, he is really difficult to beat. He is still clever, wily, and has an amazing defense.
No matter how strong he is, it will be challenging for a man with only 15 fights to overpower a veteran of 81 fights. If experience is the key here, Brown will be in way over his head. However, if his impressive power can neutralize Toney’s abilities–it will be an early night for him.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen
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