Martin Murray will face Nuhu Lawal in Monte-Carlo on Saturday night. Lawal holds the WBA Inter-Continental Middleweight crown having stopped Istvan Szili inside six rounds for the title in June, moving to 23-0 with the win and crashing into the WBA rankings at number 12.
The Nigerian-born German grabs a golden opportunity to claim the prize scalp of Murray after doctors ruled Dmitrii Chudinov out of the bout with a virus.
Murray is looking for a big win to move back into World title contention in 2017, and the St Helens favourite says he’s firing on all cylinders again after defeat to George Groves where he revealed that illness during camp played a big part in his performance.
“Four weeks before I boxed George I was flying in the gym,” said Murray. “If I’d fought him then the outcome would have been completely different. I peaked and then I got ill, I took a couple of courses of antibiotics leading into the fight, so when I fought there was nothing in me. I was shocking and I felt flat.
“I’d been training for the whole year basically so that with the illness took a lot out of me, I didn’t do anything in the first half of the fight but I still nearly pulled it out of the bag at the end. I wasn’t expecting to lose so when I did, it took a lot out of me.
“I’ve had a few good holidays since then and took some time out of the gym as I knew that this date was coming, the loss to George did take a lot out of me though. When I lost to George the goal of becoming World champion slipped away a bit but the desire and hunger is still there and I know I am only one win away from getting another shot.
“I need a win that puts me right back into the mix to fight for a Word title and hopefully this fight will be that win. I would move down to Middleweight if I could get the right fights but I just can’t seem to get them and there are fights coming at Super-Middleweight.
“I am far from done as a fighter, it’s just not worked out right for me. When we do nail it, we know that the wins against the big names will be there. I’m not making any excuses or crying over spilt milk but it just didn’t work out for me at Middleweight and I thought I beat Arthur at Super-Middle, but that’s just the way it is, that’s boxing, the politics of the sport. I dint grumble about it because I know that the World title is still there and I believe that I can beat the World champions at Super-Middleweight.”
McDonnell: I want Warren or Haskins after I beat Solis
Jamie McDonnell is targeting mega-fights in 2017 as he defends his WBA Bantamweight crown against Liborio Solis in Monte-Carlo on Saturday night.
The Doncaster star extended his winning run to 20 with a clinical ninth round stoppage win over Fernando Vargas at The O2 in London in April.
That win was McDonnell’s fourth successful defence of his WBA crown but the champion is frustrated that his fifth defence is only his second fight of the year.
“It’s been a long wait for this fight,” said McDonnell. “I want to be active and I’ve not been out as much as I’d have liked. But we’ll see this one out and move on to big things hopefully next year.
“He’s no mug this kid and I’m going to have to be switched on for it. He put Shinsuke Yamanaka down twice with the back hand so he can bang a bit. People will expect me to win this but it’s not going to be the walkthrough that some of my other fights have been. And I’m happy with that.
“It’s great to be in Monaco, I want to get a good win and soak up another new experience, I’ve had a couple of fights in the States and now we’re here, it’s great, I’ve had a long camp so I want to get the win and we can stay out here and have a nice few days celebrating.”
McDonnell had been slated to meet WBA Super and IBO champion Rau’shee Warren but the American pulled out of the mandated bout to McDonnell’s frustration. The three-time Olympian from Cincinnati took the titles from Juan Carlos Payano in a rematch in June, but has suggested that he’ll tangle with McDonnell early in 2017.
McDonnell is in no rush to commit to the fight though, with a huge unification rematch with Lee Haskins, the Bristolian who beat McDonnell in 2007 and picked up his old IBF title, and the 30 year old is also mulling over a move up to Super-Bantamweight.
“I don’t that Rau’shee Warren wanted the fight,” said McDonnell. “He bottled it, but that’s his problem not mine.
“He’s the kid that I’ve had in my mind for the last three or four months. The first six weeks or so of this camp, I was preparing to fight him. We had sparring over with him in mind. He’s a top kid, a three time Olympian, so there was no taking him lightly.
“I sparred a few southpaws and we were working on how to beat him. It’s not all gone out of the window because it was all good work but it was disappointing when he walked away from it. The fight will probably still happen, early on next year, and I’ll deal with him then.
“Lee Haskins has a win over me and I’d like to avenge that loss and get my old IBF belt back at the same time. Warren has said that he’ll take the fight next year so we’ll see, or I can move up to Super-Bantamweight where there’s some huge fights.
“I would like the Warren fight in the States. If the Haskins one comes along I’ll have that, or if there’s a big fight at Super-Bantamweight then I am happy to move up. I think I have a lot of options in both weights and I think that if I win well, I can have a good Christmas and get a holiday in knowing that 2017 is going to be full of big fights and big money.”
Solis: My World title experience is key against McDonnell
Liborio Solís is aiming to become the second Venezuelan in recent months to defeat an English fighter when he challenges Jamie McDonnell.
In September, Solís’ countryman Jorge Linares overcame Manchester’s Anthony Crolla with an impressive display of skill and speed and he hopes to make it a Venezuelan double in Monte Carlo and become a two-weight World king in the process.
“Linares did well beating another English fighter but that’s what he did and I have to write my own story,” said Solís.
“It’s my turn now. McDonnell is good, he uses his jab well, he throws good combinations, he’s also a strong guy but what I have in my favour also is my World title experience. I have to win this fight round by round and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Standing at 163cm, one of Solís’ biggest issues against McDonnell, who measures 178cm, will surely be the height disparity.
“His height could affect me a little bit,” said Solís. “He is quite tall but I have to work him out and nullify the height difference – I’m preparing myself for this. He looks quite fast but I’m also fast and I’ve had five World title fights. I have that experience behind me and I have shown people that I have the tools and potential to win a World title.
“I’m very motivated because it’s the chance to fight again for a World title against the champion. It would be something very important to become a World champion in two divisions because it’s not easy to do. I know I have the tools to do it. McDonnell is a very good fighter, he’s solid but he has his faults, as do I. I have two hands just as he has two hands and we’re going to give our all in this fight.”