St Helen’s’ Martin Murray says he plans to “do a job” on Domenico Spada on Saturday, using the opportunity to demonstrate that he is one of the best middleweight fighters in the world.
Murray was speaking at the media conference for the weekend’s “Title Tornado” tournament in Monte Carlo where the eight boxers came face to face for the first time on Wednesday evening in the famous 151-year-old casino.
It was a veritable United Nations with boxers representing the UK, South Africa, China, the US, Colombia and Italy in attendance.
Having gained momentum in the past year, Murray says he wants to make a major move in 2015 – “there are some big fights out there” – but must first deal with Spada.
The Italian himself pleaded only that Murray not be too defensive. “I hope he will fight . . . I want to give the fans a good show.”
Andrew Mikhail, advisor to Murray, made much of the fact that fans consider Murray an “uncrowned champion” after his two performances against then champions Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez.
“He’s had a lot of bad luck. Things have to change sometime. We couldn’t get good competitive fights, so thanks to Spada for stepping up. Martin is similar to Gennady Golovkin: he’s always looking to fight. No disrespect, but Spada isn’t in Martin’s league.”
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Meanwhile, WBA and IBO minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler of South Africa predicted fans were in for a treat in his scheduled 12-rounder against former WBC champion Xiong Zhao Zhong.
“It’s an honour to fight a true champion. The two of us are going to have an amazing war. There will be bombs from round one.”
Manager-trainer Colin Nathan quipped that he found Zhong’s comments about not caring who he fought to be intriguing, especially as he claimed the Chinese ducked every chance for a unification fight in 2013.
Zhong, who looks appreciably smaller than Budler, said he had trained hard for 10 weeks and expected to prevail.
The temperature was turned up when Robert Diaz, manager of IBF bantamweight title challenger Randy Caballero, took issue with Dennis Hobson, the promoter of former champion Stuart Hall.
He predicted great things from the affable Californian. “I’m so confident the fans are going to see a superstar emerge; he will make fans of everyone.”
Caballero refused to take Hall’s bait: “I’m young and hungry. The stuff he said he’s gonna do to me . . . it’s not true. Don’t miss this, there’s gonna be fireworks. I’m gonna steal the show and let people know who I am.”
Hall was dismissive of Caballero’s claims. “He hasn’t fought anyone of my calibre. I’m getting back my title, and what a great place to win it, in Monte Carlo. I’m ready, bring it on.”
The fourth title fight features WBC Silver light-heavyweight champion Ryno Liebenberg of South Africa defending against Colombia’s Eleider Alvarez.
Nathan legitimately asked where in the world you get two unbeaten light-heavyweights putting it all on the line.
“I’ve seen a lot of footage and Alvarez is one of the best light-heavies in the world. We have a gameplan. We’ll be ready.”
Mark Ramsey, the trainer of Alvarez, said that he rated Liebenberg highly, but they had the benefit of an “amazing” training camp with former world champion Jean Pascal and stablemate Artur Beterbiev in Montreal.
Straight-shooting Liebenberg was unusually quiet-spoken.
“Normally I have a lot to say but there’s no point when my opponent doesn’t understand. Alvarez is a good fighter, but I’m a great fighter. All the guys he spars with I consider my future opponents.”
Promoter Rodney Berman was delighted with the media turnout, saying that his ambition of Monte Carlo becoming a mecca of boxing in Europe had come to fruition.
He also confirmed that HRH Prince Albert of Monaco had requested to attend Friday’s weigh-in.