Tonight, on the under card of the Margarito vs Cotto 2 headliner, John Murray, 31-1, takes on WBA lightweight champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios, 28-0-1, for the WBA title at Madison Square Garden.
This is Murray’s first fight since losing to Kevin Mitchell back in July, 2011. That fight was also his first loss, when most had put money on Murray for the win.
Murray was undefeated going into the fight, he was the European champion, which he vacated to fight Mitchell and Mitchell was coming off his first loss, which was to Michael Katsidis. This loss was telling in the respect that Katsidis is a pressure fighter, constantly coming forward, constantly throwing punches.
Murray was always believed to be a fighter in the same mould, a pressure fighter who wouldn’t take a step backwards. Naturally, the clever bet would go on Murray.
However, Mitchell out boxed and outworked Murray; yes Murray played the pressure fighter role, but was there to be hit all night, and although it was a great fight, Mitchell (who isn’t particularly heavy handed) stopped him.
Rios is a different grade altogether. He has stopped every opponent that has faced him since December, 2008. In the mix of opponents faced are some top level operators, like an undefeated Anthony Peterson, Miguel Acosta and Urbano Antillon.
He dropped Peterson in the first round, before Peterson couldn’t find a way to stop Rios and decided to repeatedly hit Rios with low blows until he was disqualified in the seventh. Acosta hit the deck once in round six and then again in rounds eight and ten before he was stopped. And Antillon was down twice in the third before he was stopped.
Antillon was going toe-to-toe with Rios…brave but foolish, that’s why he didn’t see past the fourth. Acosta tried out boxing him and working off the back foot, and he had some success, until Rios caught up with him.
Peterson started off exchanging with Rios but after quickly realising that was not the best tactic, kept it at range. Until, again, Rios caught up with him.
Murray’s fighting style is march forward, hooks and uppercuts to the body and head, and it is always something he has been good at. It’s just…Rios is better.
Add the fact that Murray’s most talented opponent has either been Mitchell, Jon Thaxton or Andriy Kudryavtsev, all of whom Rios would probably walk through.
At the moment, Rios looks like a monster at the weight, whereas Murray often struggles to make 135 lbs. The fight will be taking place on the undercard of Cotto vs. Margarito 2, so there will also be thousands of screaming Mexican fans baying for blood.
The odds are well and truly stacked against Murray, I doubt he will be able to trade with Rios, and I am not sure he can box effectively off the back foot; Rios will probably walk away with the stoppage victory, halting Murray in the middle to late rounds.