4th December 2011
Murray stood and traded relentlessly with the former champion Rios, who was stripped of his title before the fight, when he failed to make the required weight. But Murray’s efforts were undone when Rios found his second wind to finish strong and stop the Mancunian in round 11. – Murray was brave to the end and proved his warrior tag throughout, before going out on his feet at 2:06 of the penultimate session, when referee Earl Brown stepped in, as Murray faltered against the ropes.
The former British and European champion started the fight well and surprised Rios with his strength and willingness to stand and engage with him, landing good combinations to head and body. Murray traded blow for blow with the American super star, of Mexican origin, earning his respect and the boxing world watching. But it was Rios, drained at the weight and apparently not eaten properly for days, who dug the deepest in the end to remain unbeaten and prove his world class credentials.
Rios began to dominate the latter rounds and with John’s face beginning to bleed and swell beyond recognition, he took charge, Murray cut in the 6th was trying and fighting until the end. But with Murray now exhausted and on auto pilot, Rios landed an hurtful right uppercut and left hook, to end a brutal no holds barred slug fest.
Rios had surrendered his WBA lightweight title when he failed to make the 135-pound weight Friday night. The title therefore for him was not on the line and only John had the opportunity to take it out of the ring on the night. But to the testament of Rios’ fighting spirit and will to win, he put the disappointment and weight issues somewhere to one side and turned in a professional performance of championship grit to out gun our boy.
“Murray’s a great warrior,” Rios said after the fight. “He deserves a lot of respect.”