“I’m feeling good and I’m predicting nothing but a Murray victory and a new Commonwealth champion.”
Martin Murray, the undefeated St Helens middleweight and Prizefighter winner, will challenge for the vacant Commonwealth title at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena on Friday night, on the under card of Ryan Rhodes fight against Luca Messi for the European Light Middleweight title.
Tanzanian Francis Cheka is his opponent and should be familiar to Merseyside fight fans after he extended current British champion Paul Smith over eight in December 2007.
Murray has had to wait patiently for his title chance and knows it’s going to be tough going against the game African.
Martin Murray vs Francis Cheka
Commonwealth Middleweight Title Fight
Martin has just come off a very good win against a tough and experienced fighter, Shalva Jomardashvili with a unanimous decision. The fight was dropped to 6 rounds in a last minute decision due to a scheduling issue, and many believe that Murray would have stopped Shalva had it gone the full 8 as he was hurting him in the later rounds.
Francis Cheka is a tough Tanzanian fighter that has been competing in the professional ranks for over 10 years. Most of his wins have come from KO including his last 3 fights, although admittedly these are against relatively unknown fighters.
However, Cheka has proved his durability having gone 8 and 10 round distances against well known middleweight fighters including Paul Smith, Geard Ajetovic and Matthew Macklin. Cheka currently holds the UBO Inter-Continental, ICB and World Boxing Commission middleweight titles
Cheka, 28, has also won his last five fights – four by stoppage – and extended current European champion Matthew Macklin over 10 rounds on his most recent trip to the UK last summer.
Murray, 18-0, says: “He went the distance with Paul Smith, Macklin and Geard Ajetovic who can all really punch so I’m expecting a long night.
“I’ve worked so hard for this fight and enjoyed my best camp since turning pro so I couldn’t be more ready for this fight.
“I’m fit enough for the full 12 rounds and that’s what I’m expecting to do. Right now all I am thinking about is winning the first round and I’ll take it from there.
“I’ve not seen Cheka fight live but I’ve been told he’s slippery and can clearly take a shot but I just can’t wait now.
“I’ve been pushing for a title fight all year and I’m just so happy that it’s finally here.
“I’m feeling good and I’m predicting nothing but a Murray victory and a new Commonwealth champion on Friday night.”
Indeed, Murray has been driving Hatton Promotions boss Gareth Williams mad for a title shot since he joined the camp last year.
Williams said: “Martin is an exciting prospect and he has been pushing us to get him a title fight for some time.
“And I have no doubt that he will become our latest champion.”
Murray added: “I am ready to go and anybody who knows me will tell you that I’ll fight any middleweight.
“I always said that I would be fighting for titles in my third year as a professional and there will be no slip ups.
“I’m made up to be in title contention and after I win the Commonwealth I’ll be going looking for the British title next.
Murray is trained by Oliver Harrison at his Salford gym, and Murray hopes that he can follow in the footsteps of some of the other fighters the impressive Harrison has looked after, notably Jamie Moore and Amir Khan.
“By the end of the year I want to have both belts around my waist.”
Ryan Rhodes tops the Sky Sports Friday Night Fights card in his hometown, making the first defence of his European light-middleweight title against Italy’s former world title challenger Luca Messi.
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