John Murray Stops An Incredibly Brave Gary Buckland In 11th-Round, Retains British Lightweight Crown And Picks Up Vacant European Title

by James Slater - Last night in Widnes, Cheshire, 25-year-old unbeaten lightweight John Murray pounded out an 11th-round TKO over a supremely brave and gutsy Gary Buckland. Murray, the defending British champion, picked up the vacant European 135-pound belt when his relentless onslaught finally persuaded referee Marcus McDonnell to stop the brutal fight at the one-minute and 46-second mark of the 11th.

Now 29-0(17), the exciting and talented Murray says he wants to go for a world title in the near future. Welshman Buckland, who fell to 19-2(6) in being stopped for the first time in his pro career, will need a long, long break after last night's gruelling affair!

We have witnessed displays of raw courage in the ring before, and we will do so again, but the noticeably smaller Buckland really earned his money last night. Expected to box and move and present a difficult target for the taller, thicker set man, the 23-year-old instead chose to go to war with Murray; standing and trading with him throughout the entire fight. This made for a most fan-friendly battle, but ultimately these tactics cost the man from Cardiff.

The war began right at the sound of the opening bell, as both me began trading at close quarters. Murray, as he would do all night, banged away with hard shots to the body, while Buckland, who also targeted the midsection at times, fired away to the head. Murray won the round, but Buckland got home with a left uppercut and a right hand to the head. The referee gave two warnings to the pair for careless use of the head.

The wicked pace never really slowed right until the fight ended, and a draining and tiring fight ensued for both men; Buckland in particular. With scarcely a clinch all night, the two went to war - neither man willing to give an inch. How the younger man took all of Murray's shots to the body I'll never know, but he did and he also came back with shots of his own in the sensational toe-to-toe battle. Murray, who caught Buckland with a big right hand to the chin in this, the 2nd, was having the better of it, though.

The great action continued unabated in the 3rd, as Buckland refused, or was unable, to change tactics. Coming in and taking it to Murray, the tough as nails Welshman displayed a hard head and an ability to take punishment to the body - and how!

Buckland scored with a nice left hook upstairs at the start of the 4th, but Murray was unfazed. And that was the problem, relative non-puncher Buckland, though he was loading up on his many punches, was unable to hurt the bigger man. But he never gave up trying to do so. Buckland's right eye was swelling shut by the 4th, and he was already having to dig really deep. It was no picnic for Murray either, but he was the more versatile, physically stronger fighter.

Murray was being made to work hard, courtesy of his challenger's sheer stubbornness, but the pace was also taking a lot out of Buckland. The 5th was a closer round, arguably the first Buckland could have had a share of (despite his guts and courage, I never gave Buckland a round in the fight).

The two traded body shots in the 6th, and Murray also got home with some uppercuts to the head. There was another warning for use of the head in the 7th-round, this time given to Murray only. Then, a monstrous right uppercut caught Buckland flush on the chin and his head snapped sideways. Amazingly he remained upright, but his nose began to pour blood. Murray went for it, looking for the stoppage, but Buckland made it through the torrid session - even firing back at the end of the round.

Buckland, now looking badly busted up, kept coming in the 8th, but a right uppercut by Murray rocked his head back. Thoughts of how the corner should maybe rescue Buckland crept in at the end of this round, as Murray had his defiant opponent in bad shape at the bell. McDonnell checked on Buckland during the minute's rest, but allowed him out for the 9th.

Driving himself on, somehow, Buckland absolutely would not quit - even though by now his right eye had been totally hammered shut. Looking far, far worse for wear than did Murray - who was also feeling the pace - Buckland, amazingly, enjoyed a decent 10th-round. With the toe-to-toe war still raging, Buckland was still swinging, looking to win. A case could be made for the 10th having been an even round.

This great effort, however, proved to be Buckland's last hurrah. Taking nasty shots as Murray raked him with both hands, the teak-tough Welshman gave the third man in the ring no choice but to dive in and save him from further punishment. There were no complaints from Buckland or his corner.

A great, if largely one-sided fight was over, and both men had nothing but respect for each other. Buckland is young enough to come again, but his body will need some time to rest and heal after what it went through last night. Murray, too, may need a rest, but seeing how last night's bout was his first in a frustrating seven months, Manchester's latest hero may not opt to take one.

Article posted on 08.05.2010

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