JUST one man now stands between Martin Murray and his dream of becoming the middleweight champion of the world.
But that’s no ordinary man – St Helens ace Murray will next fight for the WBC title in the spring against title-holder Sergio Martinez – the fighter widely recognised as the best pound-for-pound middleweight on the planet.
Not only that, 37-year-old Martinez will defend his title against local star Murray in his own back yard of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Few punters will give the Englishman much of a chance in South America on April 27 next year, but Murray is having none of that talk and is totally determined to make his mark in what will be his second tilt at a World title following his epic draw against WBA king Felix Sturm 12 months ago.
Murray told the Reporter: “I know I’ll go over there as a massive underdog, but that suits me. I’ll be going to Argentina with the aim of changing some history.
“I’m definitely not going to make the numbers up as some have already said, I’m looking forward to doing the business against Martinez.
“This is the fight I’ve been working so hard towards securing for the past five years.
“My whole team have been great throughout.
“My trainer Oliver Harrison is world class, my manager Neil Marsh has done so much beyond what would normally be seen as his duty.
“Then there’s my fitness trainers and of course my sponsors and fans.
“The hard graft from everyone will now come down to this huge chance I’ve been presented with to go and become the best in the world.”
After a hugely frustrating 2012 during which Murray has only fought twice in the aftermath of his breath-taking World title fight performance against Sturm in his German back yard last December, the current British champ now has more than four months to prepare for his true date with destiny.
The still unbeaten Murray added: “I’m totally buzzing at the moment. The Martinez fight was promised as long as I could get past Jorge Navarro a week last Saturday, and after I did just that the promise has been delivered.
“The contracts are signed now, and I’m going over to Argentina before Christmas for a round of press conferences to announce the fight.
“I’ve got plenty of time to prepare now. That suits me fine as it gives me a real sense of direction after what has been a difficult year this year. It’s going to be a great occasion and it’s a huge chance for me to shine.
“I know I’m capable of going and bringing the belt home.
“We’re here now, this is the stage where we belong.”
Martinez will be a fierce rival for Murray, and he will be an overwhelming favourite to retain his title.
Already fight fans in South America and in Martinez’s USA homeland are describing this merely as a ‘keep-busy’ fight. Nicknamed ‘Maravilla’, Martinez has 54 professional bouts on his record, and he’s won 50 of them – with 28 of those victories coming inside the scheduled distance.
He has lost only twice, back in 2000 and then in 2009, and over the last couple of years he has convincingly seen off Mexican ace Julio Cesar Chavez and Murray’s huge domestic rivals, Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin and Londoner Darren Barker.