British middleweight contender Martin Murray claims he will be unfazed by the hostile, red-hot atmosphere awaiting him in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 27, when he bids to dethrone local hero Sergio Martinez, THE RING and WBC champion.
This is not the first time unbeaten Murray, from St. Helens, England, has travelled to challenge a titleholder in his own backyard. In December 2011, he earned a split-decision draw with then-WBA middleweight holder Felix Sturm in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Though he expects an even more lively welcome from 52,000 Martinez-mad fans at the Estadio José Amalfitani, Murray insists the Sturm experience, and his recent sixth-round stoppage of Jorge Navarro on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s sold-out comeback at the 20,000-capacity MEN Arena in Manchester, will enable him to cope with the intensity of the occasion.
“Those fights have been good preparation for me,” said 30-year-old Murray (25-0-1, 11 knockouts). “Having that one in Germany and then boxing at the MEN Arena showed I can perform in front of a big audience. If I’d have just been boxing in leisure centres, going into a big stadium could make me like a rabbit in headlights, but I know I always perform well on the big stage.
“It’s not daunting me at all. The crowd is going to be very hostile but I’m always in the zone when I enter the ring so it makes no difference what people are doing around me. Naturally they’ll be some nerves before the fight, but that’s a good thing.
“I always feel some nerves, I like them and I perform off of them. I’ll just be focused on going in there and doing my job.”
Not that Murray, THE RING’s No. 8-rated middleweight, is any way underestimating the superstar pedigree of Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) and the heights he will have to scale in order to wreck an emotional homecoming for the 37-year-old Argentine.
“Martinez is easily the best middleweight in the world so obviously I’ll need to raise my game to beat him,” Murray said. “But myself and my team know that’s something we’re very capable of doing.”
Photo / Juan Mabromata-AFP