By Thomas Cummings (@tj_cummings)
St Helens’ Martin Murray fell to a split decision loss against Arthur Abraham in Hannover in a fourth bid at a world title, this time for the WBO super-middleweight crown.
The victory for ‘King Arthur’ sees the Germany-based Armenian extend his record to 44 wins, 29 inside the distance, and four losses, Murray dropping to 33(15) and three.
Much like the first two attempts at a world title against middleweight supremos Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez this defeat will leave Murray pondering what might have been.
The first quarter of the fight was undoubtedly Murray’s, starting uncharacteristically fast and racing into a three round lead. The challenger even appeared to rock the champion, a signal that Murray has the power to trouble at 168 pounds.
While the first three rounds were somewhat out of character for those who have become accustomed to watching the St Helens-man, the following four from Abraham were not.
The WBO title holder proceeded to reel off four rounds on the spin, all of which vintage Abraham – increasing activity and output in the closing stages of rounds to catch the eye of the judges at ringside and get the nod.
It was clear that throughout Murray’s tactics were to land punches behind the high tight guard of Abraham, and when the champion replied spoil and at times hold.
After a quiet period for Murray the eighth appeared to be a foothold in the fight to work from, landing a straight right early on with an increased work rate. In the final minute Abraham appeared troubled once again catching an overhead right, stumbling and having to hang on until the bell – the challenger unable to take advantage of a dazed champion.
With the fight level entering the final third, the ninth was an archetypal Abraham round – coming to life in the closing 30 seconds to nick it. The following round saw Murray employ the same tactics, finishing and closing the round to finish on terms.
What was to follow can only be described as disaster, Murray’s spoiling tactics causing the referee to deduct a point. This 10-8 round left Murray requiring a knock out or numerous knockdowns in the final stanza.
Unable to do so, and a round that was likely scored to Abraham saw the champion retain his title via split decision 116-111 & 115-112, the Murray card reading 112-115.by