Boxer Martin Murray is hoping it will be “third time lucky” when he fights for the world title early next year, but says it would be dangerous to look beyond his next opponent - tough Aussie Garth Wood.
The Pride of St Helens could be set to rack up yet more air miles though after his promoter, Ricky Hatton MBE, hinted that his title shot - set to be announced “in a matter of weeks” - is unlikely to be in the UK.
Middleweight Murray is set to jet Down Under later this month before his eagerly anticipated return to the ring against Garth Wood at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on December 11.
It will be the 31-year-old’s first fight since April, when he suffered a controversial points defeat against world champion Sergio Martinez in Argentina - a decision Hatton branded “shambolic”.
In a pre-fight press conference at Langtree Park, Saints fan Murray said: “I already knew I was an elite, world class fighter before the Martinez fight and got more out of the loss than he got out of the win.
“I was obviously gutted with the decision but we knew what we had to do when we went over there - we had to get a knockout.
“I’ve come close to winning a world title twice now and it’s going to be third time lucky. But I won’t be overlooking Garth Wood.”
Murray, who reiterated his lifelong dream to one day defend a world title in his hometown, admitted ring rust may be an issue after eight months out, but told of his excitement at getting back in the ring - albeit half way around the world.
He added: “When fights come up I’m happy to just take them - I’m happier when I’m fighting and I’m looking forward to getting over there and getting the job done.
“A ring’s just a ring. It doesn’t matter who I’m fighting or where it is. I’ve just got to stick to my game plan and let class prevail.
“I’ll be treating it as the most important fight of my life.”
Hatton, who described his charge as “the best middleweight in the country”, said fights in Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden were just a couple of fights away and admitted that a domestic showdown with Darren Barker could also be on the cards.
He said: “Garth Wood’s a decent puncher but when you look at Martin’s performance against Sergio Martinez, he has no fear of going anywhere or fighting anyone.
“Martin will get another world title shot in either February or March. It could be in the UK or abroad, but it’s hard to get a world champion to come to England.
“That will then be the gateway for him to get into the US so Martin can get the recognition he deserves.
“2014 is going to be Martin’s year. As soon as he’s got a world title belt around his waist the big fights will start coming because he’ll have something they all want.”