England’s Martin Murray knew what he was up against going to Argentina to challenge middleweight champ Sergio Martinez in his homecoming fight Saturday night, and he came close to pulling the upset, too.
He dropped Martinez once officially and could have been credited with another knockdown that was controversially ruled a slip. In the end, all three judges had it 115-112 for Martinez, thrilling the nearly 50,000 who packed a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires.
But even in defeat, Murray showed he is a legitimate middleweight contender and deserves another fight of note.
He’d love another crack at Martinez (51-2-2, 38 KOs), but that isn’t going to happen. Martinez re-injured his surgically repaired right knee and broke his left hand. He’s out, most likely, until next spring. And even when he returns, Martinez is not going to face Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) again. He will move onto something else. Murray understands that.
"I'd love the chance to fight Martinez again, but there's no way I'll get the opportunity," Murray said. "Martinez is amongst the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I had him down twice, bossed him and lost a very close debatable decision in his own backyard, so I think I've proven I belong at world level.
“I'm obviously gutted that I'm not taking that belt home with me but I'm happy and proud that I can leave Argentina with my head held high, knowing that I represented [hometown] St. Helens and Great Britain.”
Still, Murray believes he deserved the decision.
"If it was fair scoring, then I would have got the decision but it was always going to be an uphill battle in Argentina and I knew that when I accepted the fight,” Murray said. “I just want to say a massive thank-you to my family, friends and team. I'm so lucky to have these people around me, especially Oliver Harrison, who's just an amazing trainer, and I know that one day I'll get them that world title that they all deserve.
"Also, a big thank-you to Sergio Martinez, his team and the people of Argentina. From day one, we were all treated so well and really looked after.”