By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
This weekend (Saturday 22nd April) sees rival promotors Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren put their shows head to head against each other on primetime television. Here I preview the two main events and detail the undercard, starting with Eddie Hearn’s show at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
Sky Sports/Matchroom Bill – Main Event Martin Murray (34-4-1, KO16) v Gabriel Rosado (23-10, KO13) – 12 Rounds at Middleweight
Two perennial bridesmaids of the Middleweight division come together this Saturday, as four time World title challenger, St Helens’ Martin Murray, meets two time title challenger, Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado in a crossroads clash at Middleweight. Sky Sports televise here in the UK.
Both are boxing for their futures in the sport, and Murray has even suggested that he will retire if he fails to beat Rosado.
Martin Murray began his career brightly back in 2007, and after nine straight wins, he entered Prizefighter at the iconic York Hall in Bethnal Green on the British leg of a big bill, which included Ricky Hattons big Vegas fight with Paulie Malignaggi. Murray came though against Joe Rea, Danny Butler, and finally Cello Renda to lift the trophy and elevate his career. Seven fights later, Murray easily outpointed Peter Mitrevski Junior to lift his first professional title, the Commonwealth Middleweight crown. From there he went from strength to strength, and picked up the British title less than a year later, beating the always game Nick Blackwell via fifth round stoppage. In his next fight, Murray was catapulted into world class, when he challenged WBA king Felix Sturm in Mannheim, Germany. Murray boxed well, and was unfortunate to only earn a split draw, with all three judges picking all three outcomes. Murray rebounded with two wins, including picking up the interim version of the WBA crown by stopping Jorge Navarro in six. This lead to an assignment in Buenos Aires to take on pound for pound star, and Middleweight marvel Sergio Martinez for the WBC version of the Middleweight title. Murray gave his all and gained credit in defeat, even knocking down the great champion in the eighth. However Murray was always going to struggle to gain a decision win in his opponents home town, and went down 115-112 on all three cards. Again Murray marked time with another four straight wins, boxing as far afield as South Africa, and then three times in a row in Monte Carlo, culminating in a challenge for the WBA, WBC (interim) and IBO titles against the avoided Gennady Golovkin. Again Murray gave a good account of himself, but was ultimately outgunned, stopped in the penultimate session for the first time in his career.
Martin then joined forces with Eddie Hearn, and won three straight contests against limited opposition, moving up to the Super Middleweight division in the process. This lead to an opportunity for the WBO title, held by Arthur Abraham, this time travelling to Hannover in Germany. It was to be agony again for the St Helens man, going down on a split decision, winning on one card, but over ruled on two. Two fights later, he met George Groves, in an attempt to gain ranking with the WBA. In possibly Murray’s most disappointing performance, he was comfortably and unanimously outpointed by the Hammersmith man. In his last fight, he outpointed the previously unbeaten Nuhu Lawal in Monte Carlo up at Super Middleweight. My thoughts on Murray though, is that his natural weight is Middleweight, but the World title opportunities are limited due to Golovkins monopoly on the division that Murray returns to this Saturday night.
In the opposite corner will be Gabriel Rosado. Rosado won his first five but then lost two out of his next three, by unanimous decision to Chris Gray and Joshua Onyango. Gray was 3-2 at the time and Onyango 12-13. Rosado avenged the Onyango defeat by knockout two fights later, but was left at 10-3, following another points defeat, this time to the unbeaten Fernando Guerrero. It was then to be 12-4 as Alfredo Angulo knocked Rosado out in the second round of their contest. Rosado won two comeback fights, before another defeat, this time by majority decision to Derek Ennis. Rosado rebounded and went on a career best seven fight winning streak, including knockout wins over decent contenders Jesus Soto Karass and Sechew Powell. However in Rosado’s last eight fights he has a less than impressive 2-5 record with one no contest. Gennady Golovkin started the slide with a seventh round TKO victory in a challenge for the WBA and IBO Middleweight crowns. J’Leon Love then beat Rosado by split decision, but this was changed to a no contest following Love’s failure of a drugs test (banned diuretic) post fight. Peter Quillin then stopped Rosado in ten in a one sided contest for the WBO title, followed by Jermell Charlo outpointing him. David Lemieux added to Rosado’s woes by also stopping him in ten. In his last three fights, Rosado has gone 2-1, including a decent win over former titlist Joshua Clottey. Rosado lost his last fight on the Canelo v Liam smith undercard to fellow gatekeeper, Willie Monroe Junior on points.
Unless Murray has badly faded, I fully expect him to take care of Rosado. Rosado has always been found wanting at world and fringe level and I can see Murray forcing a late stoppage or a wide points win. Rosado also cuts very easily and this has been a problem in the past that Murray can exploit. One thing is for sure is that the loser doesn’t have many places left to go.
The undercard includes an intriguing domestic clash for the British title at Super Middleweight, where John Ryder (24-3 KO12), fresh off a points win over Adam Etches, meets Rocky Fielding (23-1 KO13) who looks to continue to rebuild following a crushing one round defeat to Callum Smith in November 2015.
Sean “Masher” Dodd (12-2-1) meets Lee Appleyard (10-2) for the Commonwealth Lightweight title, and Joe Cordina makes his professional debut.
BT Sport/Boxnation Bill – Main Event Tommy Langford (18-0 KO6) v Avtandil Khurtsidze (32-2-2 KO21)For The Interim WBO Middleweight Title
Over on BT Sport (main event portion of the card, Boxnation will broadcast prelim fights), Frank Warren holds the second show into his new era for the sport, with a card held at the Leicester Arena. Tommy Langford puts his unbeaten record on the line in a real acid test, as he meets Georgian based New Yorker Avtandil Khurtsidze for the interim WBO Middleweight crown. This seems quite confusing as there doesn’t seem to be an issue with the title, as full holder Billy Joe Saunders is not injured and has not indicated vacating the title.
This is by far the biggest test of the Devon born, but Birmingham resident Langford’s fledgling career, as he has been fed so far on a diet of journeymen and limited opposition. After twelve straight wins since turning pro in 2012, Langford picked up the WBO intercontinental title, stopping Julio Cesar Avalos in four in Dublin. He then outpointed Christian Rios and stopped Robert Swierzbinski in five before picking up the Commonwealth crown on points against Lewis Taylor in Liverpool. Timo Laine was then stopped in seven, and in Tommy’s last fight, he squeezed past Sam Sheedy via split decision to lift the British Middleweight Title.
Where Langford has enjoyed relative home comforts, Avtandil Khurtsidze has fought in the USA, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and France. He drew two of his first seven bouts, and lost in his tenth fight by TKO to Tony Marshall, who was 32-16-6 going into the fight. Khurtsidze then went on a 16 fight winning streak, picking up the WBA intercontinental belt in the process. He was then outpointed in France for the interim WBA crown by the tough Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Khurtsidze is now currently on a nine fight winning run, this time picking up the IBO bauble along the way. In his last fight he knocked out the previously unbeaten Antoine Douglas in the final round for the WBO International title, and comes to England in good form.
This may be a step too far so early on in Langford’s career and I can see Khurtsidze setting a high pace and maybe outworking Langford on the inside. I predict a points win for the Georgian.
The undercard sees an array of talent. Zolani Tete (24-3) meets Arthur Villanueva (30-1) in a eliminator for the WBO Bantamweight Title. Tyrone Nurse (34-2-1) defends his British Super Lightweight Title against Joe Hughes (15-2). Anthony Yarde and Heavyweight hope Daniel Dubois also feature.
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