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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Inpho
# Corner man
'Quiet Man' Murray up against the Rock and a hard place
Cavan’s boxing hope takes on hometown favourite Gavin Rees in Cardiff tonight.

WHEN HE ENTERS the ring to take on Gavin Rees in Cardiff tonight, Andy Murray will have the chance to follow in the steps of the likes of Bernard Dunne, Paul McCloskey, Freddie Gilroy (among others) and become an Irish Champion of Europe.

Truth be told though, if the Cavan man was to defeat the former World Titlist, it’s unlikely to be the toughest fight of his life.

Inside the ring, Andy Murray’s record is unblemished, though he has fought few compelling opponents.  He was won each of his 24 fights thus far, and another win tonight would make him the first Irishman to win their first 25 bouts.  Not listed among those opponents however, is a debilitating hip condition known as Perthes.

Murray suffered from the illness as a child, and for many years he alternated between crutches and a wheelchair – that chair remains in his father’s attic to this day, but Murray has moved on with his career and his life.

Tonight the Cavan man will need to show those battling qualities once more.  He takes on Gavin Rees in the Welshman’s back yard, and Murray is rightly the 5/2 outsider.  Rees is a small fighter, even by ten stone standards, and is used to battling foes who are taller than him and have a longer range to their punches.

These are the advantages Murray usually tries to exploit, and the gangly boxer will need to do so against his stocky opponent tonight.  e has a chance, especially if the fight goes into the later rounds.

Murray v Rees is, according to their nicknames, a battle between “The Quiet Man” and “The Rock”.  Give me John Wayne over Nicholas Cage any day.

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Also on the bill in Cardiff tonight is Belfast’s Carl Frampton, whose manager Barry McGuigan this week hailed has ‘the best prospect in 30 years’.  It’s high praise from a man who knows his stuff (even if McGuigan is somewhat biased) but if the unbeaten Super Bantamweight can overcome Robbie Turley, then he will get the chance to fight for a British title later this year.

It’s only Frampton’s 10th fight but expect him to record a tenth win tonight.  McGuigan’s praise for his protégé may be too much, but Irish fans should be cheering on a world class Carl Frampton in the coming years.

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Tonight’s main action Stateside will be held in Atlantic City, where arguably Britain’s best fighter at the moment Carl Froch is in action against Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson.  For Froch, tonight is almost like a second coming.  After clinching the WBC Super Middleweight Title with a points victory over Jean Pascal in front of over 6 million viewers in 2008, none of his fights since then have been shown on mainstream television.  Unusual as the situation is, it’s also been unfortunate for the Nottingham native who has become unknown to the wider public.

This relative anonymity is a shame, because some of his performances in recent years have been of the top order.  Victory over tough German Arthur Abraham last time out was his best performance in many years, and while Froch was beaten by Mikkel Kessler in Denmark before that, his gritty performance was one of a true warrior.

Unlike those contests however, tonight’s will be shown by Sky Sports which, while not terrestrial television exposure, is a mainstream channel and one which has seen ‘The Cobra’ promoted for the first time in many years.  In light of this, it was interesting to read this week how Froch publicly advised Amir Khan to mend relations with the broadcaster if at all possible.

A row between Khan and Sky led to his last bout against Paul McCloskey being shown by the same Primetime network which aired Froch’s recent fights, and the fledgling minnow is the likely destination for Khan’s next contest with Zab Judah, announced this week.  However, as Froch has shown, this would mark effective exile for Khan and is something many feel he should not do.

The 42-year-old Johnson won’t make it easy tonight, but if Froch fights the correct fight then he should be able to dispatch the wily veteran.  A win would set up a showdown with Andre Ward later this year in the final of the Super Six Tournament, the chance to be crowned the best Super Middleweight in the world and perhaps most importantly, to gain the recognition he so richly deserves.

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The much hoped-for success for Murray and Frampton tonight could cap a wonderful week for Irish boxing.  By the time you read this, Katie Taylor will have hopefully clinched the European Union Lightweight Crown in Poland.  She marched into today’s final with a comprehensive victory over an English opponent, a performance which AIBA Director of Boxing Dominic O’Rourke hailed as ‘the best she has ever fought’.  Today she takes on an opponent from Poland for the title and win or lose, the Bray woman will collect Ireland’s third medal of the Championships.  Laoise Traynor and Lauragh O’Neill both bowed out of the Championships with bronze medals following semi-final reversals, their first fights of the week.

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Andy Lee’s career rumbles on to what should be an interesting close to 2011.  In October, he is slated to avenge his only career loss to date against Brian Vera on the undercard of Sergio Martinez’s World Title defence – that may be against Sebastian Zbik if he beats Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tonight – but before that the Limerick middleweight is set to fight in Hamburg on July 2nd, on the undercard of David Haye v Wladamir Klitschko.  There is no confirmation of the bout as of yet, or of an opponent, and while speculation surrounds European Champion Darren Barker, don’t expect this to happen as Barker is slated to fight in Essex three weeks later.

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This Week In Boxing History

After mentioning Barry McGuigan earlier in the piece, and how boxers can draw in massive crowds of support a la Carl Froch against Jean Pascal, it got me thinking of the best supported British boxer in recent years.  When Ricky Hatton fought Floyd Mayweather in 2008, the fight was hyped more than any other I can remember.  In the US it sold over one million pay-per-view buys, a solid number, but staggeringly in his native UK that figure was matched despite the smaller population and the fact that the fight was at 4:00 a.m. in the morning (yes, the fight was cheaper here).

Unfortunately for The Hitman, the fight with Mayweather was a step too far so as it now appears that his fighting days are over, his best night was surely June 4th 2005, and an 11th round win over Kostya Tszyu.  Hatton became World Light Welterweight Champion after a bruising encounter, typified by the phenomenal home support at the MEN Arena, and this incident in Round 10, where the men traded a pair of interesting blows…