Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

I am the (lightweight) resurrection

Image courtesy of @JoeMurrayBoxing

November 3, 2016


There is, perhaps, something to bear in mind for future opponents of British lightweight Joe Murray.
Don’t stick the nut on him.
Or in Queen’s English try to avoid headbutting him.
“I’m not going to let someone bully me around at a weigh-in and put the head on me. I’m not one of these guys you try to bully and I laugh it off. If you want to put the head on me you’re lucky you’re not getting a crack. Lucky you're getting a slap before we get in the ring.”

A straight-talking Joe Murray (19-2, 8 KOs) there, speaking to Talking Boxing 11 days after a career-best win and performance that ended with a stunning sixth round KO of unbeaten Dane Rashid Kassem in Denmark.
Twenty-four hours earlier and there was the customary weigh-in. An occasion that can be an event of its own thanks to the environment, the fighters and what has gone on in the build-up beforehand. Both men walked towards one another, Kassem moved in with his head angering Murray who pushed his opponent back. 1-0 to Murray. The intimidation tactic didn’t work.
“He was an undefeated kid, and he seen the size and presence of me when I come to the weigh-in and I think it made him a bit nervous, a bit twitchy and I knew he was coming to put the head on me,” Murray said.

“I don’t get intimidated easy. When it came to it he just got a bit shocked. Don’t forget I only had two weeks’ notice. I think he thought a journeyman was coming in to just take him rounds. A good name on his record. When I got there, I was saying to him, 'I'm going to go and knock you out', and he seen the size and presence. He knew he was in for a fight and it shook him up a little bit. At the weigh-in I think he burned a lot of nervous energy and he was like ‘Oh my god, I’m in for a fight’ and he started all the bully tactics.”
Things carried over to the fight at the Arena Nord in Frederikshavn. Murray and Kassem weren’t a million miles away from each other during the ring announcements. The Dane bouncing on his feet staring over at the Brit, who met Kassem’s look with a steely version of his own. Kassem’s intimidation still not working. Referee Jan Christensen brought them together for the final instructions, Kassem full of cocky smiles… his mind thinking of an easy night’s work. Murray’s glare full of business.
“Everyone was saying he’s jumping around the ring like he’s lost his head already. I think when I hit him with the first back hand it rocked the life out of him, and he was shocked with the power as well. People who come to fight me get knocked out. At that time, he just thought ‘Oh god, I’ll give my best and try and get me out of there’. It didn’t happen, it went my way.”

But not after Kaseem had Murray in a spot of bother early in the first round. 'What a horrible start for him,' said Boxnation pundit Barry Jones who worked on the fight for the channel alongside commentator John Rawling.
It was a release of energy from both men that saw the fight explode into a tear-up. Murray’s wobble was over, and Kaseem then found himself down inside the first minute. A straight right hand from Murray followed up by several seconds of domination had the Dane hurt, dazed, confused and having to beat the count.
“He showed what heart he had,” Murray said.
“He caught me early and I come back in the round, and knocked him down three times even though it was counted as one knockdown. It shows what kind of balls I’ve got. I will go into someone’s backyard and take their 0 off them.”

“Only a matter of time before you stop this kid,” said Murray’s brother and trainer John at the end of round two.
Joe was taking as good as Kassem could offer, the Mancunian having his head rocked. The fight was looking like it could go either way but Murray knew he was taking over.
“And you see it in round two when I say 'I won that round' and I could see him tiring.
“He was draining away. I knew I was hurting him with every shot, even a jab. I knew it was hurting him. I could see him fading that bit more. I think the commentator picked it up saying, “I think Joe Murray’s looking stronger at the end of every round”. It wasn’t that I was looking stronger, he was tiring after every round. I knew he was finding it hard in there, and as an undefeated kid he’s never put in that place before. He knew it was getting harder and harder, putting the headbutt on me. He was looking for the ref all the time. Because I’ve been in the game a little longer I knew he was tiring. I knew every time I was unloading in there he would come in with that last gung-ho shot to try and catch me. And when it didn’t work it was goodnight for him.”

And the goodnight resulted in one of the knockouts of the year. Something that has been seen, at time of writing, 503,114 times on the Against the Ropes YouTube channel. A missed jab followed by a right hand from distance gave Murray a win that has taken his career and his 2016 to another level. Title shots beckon after four fights and four wins culminating in the KO of Kassem.
“I look at Scotty Cardle and he’s British champion, and I can see me taking that off him. I’m not fearing no British, European or World lightweight. The way I look at it is whatever chance gets sent my way I’ll be taking. I look at them and think they’re all beatable.”
Murray would be happy to squeeze in another fight before the lights are out on 2016, but with a bit more notice!