English middleweight contender Martin Murray(29-1, 12KO’s) is only weeks away from the toughest task of his professional career as he looks to dethrone WBA Super World, interim WBC World and IBO World middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin(31-0, 28KO’s). The bout will take place on February 21st in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and in the build up to his third attempt at a world title Murray has been detailing his progress in training camp for dailymail.co.uk.
Murray is doing a six-week camp in Johannesburg, South Africa in preparation for the biggest fight of his life, and his new surroundings are befitting of a world title contender.
“I’ve done camps in the past when I’ve gone away for a week then gone home at weekends but nothing like this. We’re staying at the Emperors Palace; it’s a huge complex with a five-star hotel and a casino straight out of Las Vegas. My nutritionist is over, and he’s working around the clock with the chef.”
Bringing staff over to assist with training is a huge plus, as all the best-laid plans for a high-profile bout can easily go awry in an alien environment. But the St Helens man insists that swapping the dreary conditions of home for the baking African sun has only helped his progress as he trims himself down to the 160 .lb. Limit.
“I did my 30-day check weight last week and at 169lb, it’s the lightest I’ve ever weighed in for it. I was only a pound over my seven-day check weight, so I’m flying. It helps over here with the weather; when it’s nice outside you want to go for a jog and eat healthily.”
I am glad to hear all is going well. Murray is a likable character with an agreeable demeanor and most of all; he’s a solid fighter. But let us not overlook the fact that he is about to face the Terminator of his division.
Murray’s previous two attempts at world titles against Felix Sturm in 2011, and Sergio Martinez in 2013 turned out to be sour affairs. Having outboxed Sturm convincingly in Germany, the fight was ruled a draw. The same thing happened in Argentina against Martinez but was given a unanimous decision, even though the hometown man was knocked down twice (only one was officially counted). To call Murray unlucky in either instance is to alleviate the weight of responsibility from the shoulders of the wrongdoers who robbed him.
This time the consensus view is that Murray will do well to even hear the final bell, as Golovkin has made a terrifying habit of turning most of his victims into inanimate objects with his dynamite-laden fists. But far from envisaging the demise of fighters like Daniel Geale and Curtis Stevens as an indicator to his own fate, Murray says he does not allow the thought of the fight itself to intrude too much into his psyche.
“I don’t think about the fight much, to be honest. When I get up in the night it’s the first thing that jumps into my head and I think about it when I go training but I know what I’ve got to do so there’s no point wasting nervous energy thinking. I’m looking forward to it.”
A pragmatic approach from a seasoned performer, but I still wonder if this fight brings with it a heightened sense of anticipation given Golovkin’s fearsome reputation. To hear Murray speak about it, the fight is just that; a fight.
I remember Murray accusing Matthew Macklin of fighting scared on Sky Sports after Macklin went up against Golovkin in 2013, only to have his ribs broken in the third round with a single left hook. Is it possible to push instances like this to the back of your mind and stick to a game plan when you know the other guy is throwing bricks in there?
For his part, Murray is doing everything he can to minimise the menacing spectre of the champion. He has been watching Golovkin’s fights on mute to bypass all of the hyperbole from the commentators, along with another tactic to humanise his foe.
“We’ve put Golovkin’s face on the punch bag; it was my trainer Oliver Harrison’s idea! It’s something we’ve always done. There’s been that many bags in the gym that have been Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker and then Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez; now its Golovkin. It’s there every day when we go; I’m sick of the sight of his face, to be honest.”
If only Golovkin were as passive as a heavy bag. The fact is the champion is an accurate and hurtful puncher who is always looking to close the show in spectacular fashion. Murray will not only need to be defensively alert, but will have to initiate attacks on a regular basis to deter Golovkin from rolling right through him.
He is a larger physical presence than Golovkin is used to going in against, and hopefully that extra bulk will aid in absorbing some of the shots he will surely have to take if he is to get the win. What lies ahead of Murray is a daunting task indeed, but as far as he is concerned he’s doing everything within his power to show up to Monte Carlo ready for action.
“Everything’s in the best possible shape it can be.”