John Murray dismantled Andriy Kudriavtsev in a grueling performance, breaking first the Ukrainian’s spirit and then his heart before the referee stopped the action in the ninth. Following the fight, 25 year-old Murray, now unbeaten in 30 bouts, told of his desire to step up to world class. He now has America, Humberto Soto and even Amir Khan in his sights.
As expected, right from the first bell, this was an intense fight. Neither man likes to take a backward step and with little to no defensive work on show the bout was never going the full distance. Although the classier boxer, Murray seemed content with his ungainly come forward style. Kudriavtsev, also a pressure fighter, happily met him in the middle of the ring as both men took punishment.
During rounds four, five and six, Kudriavtsev looked every bit as good as Murray as the pair traded leather. However when Murray gave himself room and picked his shots, Kudriavtsev had no answer. Yet this was a rare occurrence and the Manchester Warrior was content to take blows in order to land his harder shots.
By round eight, Murray’s constant pressure and fast hands were taking their toll and Kudriavtsev was looking frustrated. He had absorbed a great deal of punishment and was regularly glancing at his corner. The Ukrainian was slow in getting up for the ninth and Murray sensed his opponent weakening. Head down, bulldozing forward Murray was finally bullying his man. For the first time in the fight it was all going right for the champ who continued applying pressure. A strong right hand buckled Kudriavtsev and as Murray charged, referee Manuel Oliver stepped in to end the contest.
Murray was impressive against a tough opponent but has an armory of skills he seems unprepared to use. Instead he prefers to copy his all-action hero Ricky Hatton with crowd pleasing, punishing battles. Like Hatton, however, this may well leave him wanting at world level.
Amir Khan was a TV pundit for the bout and let slip that Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy is keen on matching Murray against Victor Ortiz on the Khan-Maidana undercard. Murray himself seems more set on facing WBC champion Humberto Soto and there is also talk of a bout against the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez – Michael Kastidis.
As mouthwatering as any of these prospective fights are, Murray has to improve his boxing brain. Walking in straight lines with limited head movement would be suicidal against world class operators. The likes of Khan and Marquez would toy with an opponent using such tactics and utilize quick movement, uppercuts and counter attacks to bamboozle. Murray’s ability to adapt his game plan is the key to his future success. If he is able to change tactics, keeping his natural aggression and strength, mixed with more agility and patience, he has a chance.
Whatever path is taken, whatever tactics are used, one thing is for certain, John Murray is a fans’ fighter who loves a tear up and will be adored by the American public.