ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Martin Murray vs. Roberto Garcia
By: Ste Rowen
If all had gone to plan for this weekend, Martin Murray would be fighting in a world title bout for the 6th time in his pro career, but due to a second injury pull-out from WBO middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders, Murray, who’s fought for championship honours at both 160 and 168, will be taking on Mexican, Roberto ‘La Amenaza’ Garcia for the WBC ‘Silver’ belt at London’s O2 arena.
‘The fact I’m fighting a dangerous fight and it’s a meaningful fight means a lot.’ Said Murray at Wednesday’s press conference. ‘I was gutted Billy Joe pulled out, but I’ve not took my eye off the ball.’
‘He’s the complete opposite to Billy Joe…He’s orthodox, come forward fighter, in your face. It’s gonna be a tough fight. You could say it’s a tougher fight in some respects.’
‘It’s about levels, and I’m a level above and I’ll show that on Saturday.’
Murray, 36-4-1 (17KOs), fought twice last year marking his return back down to middleweight after his brief, unsuccessful, spell up at 168, which included defeats to George Groves and Arthur Abraham. The St Helens native scored a decision victory over Gabe Rosado in April 2017 and then on the undercard of Smith vs. Skoglund, the 35-year-old scored a body shot KO of relative unknown, Arman Torosyan.
In fact, before those two bouts, Murray’s last fight at 160 was his 11th round stoppage loss to 31-0 at the time, Gennady Golovkin back in early 2015. But as Martin said himself, sometimes it is about levels and Murray’s level of opposition, win or lose, has been significantly greater than La Amenaza’s.
Garcia, 41-3 (24KOs), now a relative veteran of the game (his debut fight coming in 2001), will be hoping this is finally his time. The 38-year-old, despite an impressive record on paper is in danger of his defining fight being his 2010 defeat to Antonio Margarito who, after earning a 10-round decision over Roberto fought, and loss to Manny Pacquiao just six months later.
‘La Amenaza’ was last in the ring in August 2017 where he travelled to Mexico to take on Julio Cesar Chavez’s son, Omar for the WBC ‘Silver’ strap. For 10 rounds, Garcia rushed forward laying hands on his opponent, not allowing him to breath, as Chavez struggled to maneuverer and counter. Roberto emerged the unanimous victor that night and showed that he has more left to give to boxing even if he remains a few levels below the elite.
‘It’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve always been the B-side my entire career. I’ve always fought against all the odds. I’ve built a career on pulling off upsets.’
‘We took that fight (vs. Chavez) on 28 days’ notice and I do a full time. We went over there with everything for him, the judges, it’s nothing I’m not used to.’
‘I fight hard as hell and I’ve had many, many guys say they’re gonna rip my head off, but it always changes…I go as hard as I want to. I walk the line.’
Whether Murray will have a tougher time, as he put it, in the ring with Garcia than he would with Saunders is highly doubtful, but the change of opponent should make a for a much more exciting style matchup.
Daniel Dubois vs. Tom Little
With the vacant English heavyweight title on the line, one of Britain’s most exciting prospects enters the ring in arguably his toughest test to date. 7-0(7KOs) Daniel Dubois will take on Tom Little, 10-5 (3KOs) in a fight that’s been simmering nicely over the past few weeks.
At the press conference, Little wasn’t shy in letting Dubois know he was in for a tough ride when the two meet,
‘He’s alright against whatever taxi driver you put in front of him. If you stand in front of him, he’s gonna cave your head in. Put him in with someone with an intelligent boxing brain then it’s gonna be a whole different story.’
‘I’m gonna take him into deep water and I’m gonna drown him very slowly.’
Not usually a big talker at press conferences, Dubois kept his time on the mic brief,
‘I’m a strong swimmer… Tom looks like a very weak man…You are a weak man and I’m gonna show you that on Saturday.’
Both fighter’s share a previous opponent in Dorian Darch. Dubois wiped out the Welshman in 2 rounds, whereas Little suffered his 3rd pro defeat to Darch back in 2014. The two seem polar opposites in terms of talk outside the ring vs style inside it, and the rate of which Dubois is climbing makes it seem, on paper at least, that both could in for an early night at the O2, but there does seem to be something in Little that’s got Dubois’ back up however, from what we’ve seen so far from ‘Dynamite’, that’s probably bad news for Tom.
Anthony Yarde vs. Dariusz Sek
Another of Britain’s exciting crop is back in between the ropes this weekend as, 15-0 (14KOs), light heavyweight, Anthony Yarde takes on southpaw, Dariusz Sek 27-3-3 (9KOs) for the WBO inter-continental and European belts.
Sek has lost two of the three occasions he’s fought outside of Poland, but he’s yet to be stopped and with Yarde on a 13-fight KO streak, things could get interesting when the two collide.
Asked about his opponent and the difference in training for a southpaw ‘The Beast’ said,
‘Doesn’t matter if they’re southpaw, west-paw, north-paw, east-paw, it’s a fight and we’ll see what happens on fight night…It’s a little bit different but I haven’t struggled.’
Yarde’s promoter, Frank Warren also revealed that he rejected the offer to fight Sergey Kovalev the current WBO champion,
‘We were offered the fight against Kovalev and we turned it down. He’s not ready for that. He won’t want to hear that, he wants to fight, but Tunde (Ajayi) and I discussed it and he’s not ready for that.’
‘The objective is to win the world title and once you’ve won it, you’ve got to defend it and to do that you need experience.’