In 2011 Sky Sports produced an article looking at 11 British boxers who they believed were going to make a significant impact on world boxing in the years to come. In amongst those who have made the grade – Frampton, Quigg, Saunders and Gavin – there are a few names that, unsurprisingly, have not been quoted much in world title affairs since then. After all in any list there are likely to be more than a few who shan’t make it – makes the rest look better!
One of the boxers quoted that year, already had a brother in the professional game and has always been a bit of an enigma, but might now have found the form to make a difference. Now 30 years old, it could be argued that his prime was now and he best make the best of it; Joe Murray 19-2, 8 KO’s, having fought abroad for the first time in his career, still might have enough in his tank to make the grade, at last!
A former roommate of Amir Khan, Murray has not enjoyed the same limelight. To date his biggest quoted achievement is still the 2007 World Amateur boxing champions bronze medal; a glory from a decade ago.
His amateur pedigree was so good that it got him all the way to the Olympics in 2008 at Beijing. Alongside two of the other top 11 of 2011, Saunders and Gavin, he was there to represent his country at what is for most, the pinnacle of their amateur career. His coach Terry Edwards at the time might have been right in suggesting that his loss in the first round was “very generous to the Chinese” but he also was honest enough to admit that Murray “had not boxed at his best.”
Having got to the Olympics, Murray then turned pro. After making his debut in 2009 he starts racking up the wins, going 14 without loss. In 2011 Murray then won the IBF Youth featherweight title and brought his face into contention for other, more worthy scraps.
I thought he was certainly a prospect and could find nothing to argue with the assessment in that our 11 for 2011 article that asserted, “…he looks like he could handle being moved forward quite quickly… He has the pedigree and the skills. …he should be thinking about fighting for significant titles”
Then came 2012 and all went a bit quiet. Only one fight that year, and though it was another win his inactivity – as David Haye has found out – was to be a bit of an issue. By 2013 there were other fighters who were more deserving.
He did have an active 2013 and it got him a shot at Liam Walsh, 21-0, 14 KO’s, for the British and WBO international super featherweight titles. He lost in a majority decision and that was his first ever professional loss at a weight he had never boxed at before. Murray was not convinced he had lost and spent 2014 fighting only once and that was stopped in the second round! It was now that Murray’s dedication was questioned. He talked of the sport being a hobby rather than a job, how he wished he had never turned professional and the lack of injuries meant he had no real excuse for inactivity. He was, however a gym rat, never out the place and always preparing.
He has not been shy in calling people out but his phone has never been rung off the hook with offers. Ironically his inactivity is what he finds so frustrating. The idea that he cannot get big fights causes him and those who think he is good – a lot of angst. The one thing he never lacked though was confidence in his own ability.
He was back in the ring in in 2015 for another shot at Liam Walsh – his only fight that year – when he was knocked out in his attempt to win the British and Commonwealth super featherweight titles.
2016 has seen him get back in the game. Four fights and four wins, including a big win against an unbeaten Rashid Kassem, 11-1, 7 KO’s, in Denmark. Volubly backed by his trainer and brother, John, Murray landed flush on Kassem in the 6th, having knocked him to the canvass twice in the 1st but it was in the 6th that his training and preparation paid off as local hero Kassem was waived off by the referee.
Currently ranked at number 6 in British lightweights he has some big names above him in Crolla, Flanagan, Cardle and Campbell. He is due out in April and it looks like it shall be another “keep busy” fight rather than a title fight. It is clear that he has ambitions to be more than just that guy who used to be good – he wants the activity and someone should give it to him – Sean Dodds or Scott Cardle perhaps?
It just shows you how fickle things can be – had he done better at Beijing or won at least one of his fights against Walsh then he could have been the one at the top table with Floyd Mayweather, JR. announcing his IBF super featherweight title fight against Gervonta Davis in May. As it is, he is looking for another opponent to get 2017 going, I hope it leads to some decent tests and a few belts along the way.Contact the Feature Writers