Martin Murray to fight Felix Sturm later this year; Jenkins-Gethin on Saturday; My Farewell To George Benton

MARTIN MURRAY will challenge World Boxing Association (WBA) middleweight champion Felix Sturm later this year.

St Helens’ British, Commonwealth and WBA intercontinental champion meets the German superstar at the SAP Arena, Mannheim on Friday 2nd December.

Murray will be bidding to become the first Hatton Promotions fighter to win a world championship crown.

The undefeated 28-year-old said: “I am absolutely buzzing and have so much motivation to go over there and beat Sturm.

“I first knew about the fight in early September, but we couldn’t say anything until the contract was signed.

“I have started an 11 week training camp at Oliver Harrison’s gym and come fight night I will be in the shape of my life.

“I have been ready for this chance for about nine months, but I seemed to slip under the radar because everybody talks about Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker as the main middleweights in Britain.”

Sturm was a controversial points winner over Macklin in June, but Murray insists he has every confidence in the officials.

He added: “I watched Sturm’s defence against Macklin and made it a draw. When it is that close the champion on home soil usually gets the decision and there could be no real complaints.

“The WBA are a fantastic organisation and been very good to me so I will not be worrying about the scoring.

“Anyway, I am better fighter than Macklin and I will go one better than him in December.”

Murray who has won all 23 fights and is ranked three by the WBA will be an underdog when he faces the formidable champion.

Sturm, 32, has lost just two of his 39 contests and will be making the 11th defence of the world title he won for the second time against Javier Castillejo in April 2007.

Murray last fought in June, when he forced Nick Blackwell to quit on his stool after five rounds.

Jenkins vs. Gethin on Saturday

SCOTT JENKINS cannot afford to come unstuck against Steve Gethin this weekend because he’ll get it in the ear from his dad and boss.

The popular lightweight bids for his second professional win when he faces the vastly experienced Walsall man at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena on Saturday 24th September.

Jenkins comes from the Steel City but now lives in Chesterfield and is trained by his dad, Lee and boss Grant Smith.

Scott, 20, works for Smith as a kitchen fitter, but was without both men in his corner when making a winning pro debut against Dan Carr in June.

He explained: “Dad and Grant were still waiting for their licences to come through, but they completed their course with Ricky Hatton last week and now have their laminates.

“My dad has been in my corner for all my amateur fights and it was really strange not having him around in my first professional contest.

“I am glad he and Grant will be there because they are the voices I listen to all the time and I am sure I will perform even better than my debut.

“I don’t know what would happen if I ever got beaten and had to answer to my dad and the person I work for.”

Jenkins has sold almost 400 tickets for the show that is fast heading towards a sell-out.

He said: “I am not a drinker at all, but I like to put myself about in clubs and at parties by meeting new people and socialising.

“I don’t know why I have sold so many tickets, but I think I am a likeable person and must be doing something right.”

The main event on the Sky televised bill sees Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes bid to win a Lonsdale belt outright when he risks his British super-featherweight title against Cardiff’s Gary Buckland.

In the chief support former European champion and WBC world title challenger Rendall Munroe meets Ryuta Miyagi in a non-title ten rounder.

Jenkins fellow Sheffield prospects Adam Etches, Richard Towers and Jezz Wilson are also on the big bill.

Etches and Towers also face Belarussian opposition. Heavyweight Towers meeting Yuri Bihoutseu over eight rounds, while Etches boxes Yauheni Abdurazakau over four rounds.

Welsh banger Justyn Hugh faces another Sheffield fighter, Carl Wild in a four round light-heavyweight clash.

Manchester’s former amateur star Tommy Stubbs makes his pro debut when he faces, tricky Kuwaiti Anwar Alfadi, who boxes out of Ingle’s stable.

There are some tickets left priced £35, £55 and £75 VIP from 01925 755222. Be quick, this show WILL sell-out.

The card will be screened live by Sky Sports.

My Farewell To George Benton

George Benton, one of the best never to win a world title, especially at a time when world titles meant something, passed away Sept. 19, 2011, at the age of 78. Promoter J Russell Peltz, International Boxing Hall of Fame class of 2004, recalls his days with The Mayor of North Philadelphia.

Goodbye, Baby Cakes!

When I was 15 years old, I read in the newspaper that George Benton knew 48 different ways to avoid getting hit with a left jab. I had learned how to box a couple of years earlier and I was trying to figure out all the ways this could be done but I gave up after about a dozen.

At the time in 1962, George was in the middle of one of his many comebacks. This one would lead him back into the Top 10 and onto the doorstep of the title shot he would never get. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!

My dad took me to Convention Hall that May to see George fight cross-town rival Jesse “Crazy Horse” Smith. We sat ringside and watched George play defense, then pick Smith apart (right) en route to a unanimous decision. Among other monikers, George was known as the Mayor of North Philadelphia and that’s the one I liked best.

“He just sets there and waits for you to do something,” Smith said afterward. “And when you do, you’re sorry you did.”

I was away that summer when George and Joey Giardello packed the 12,000-seat Convention Hall for their all-Philly showdown. I got a copy of the Philadelphia Daily News the day after the fight and I never forgot Jack McKinney’s opening paragraph:

“George Benton, the man, finally caught up with George Benton, the legend, and the two walked out of Convention Hall together last night. After 13 years of frustration and unfulfilled promise, the gifted North Philadelphia middleweight finally tore loose from his personal treadmill to win the biggest fight of his career with a solid decision over veteran contender Joey Giardello.” (Why don’t they make writers like that anymore?)

People say George blew a title shot when he lost a split decision to Hurricane Carter the following June (below) in his first-ever fight at Madison Square Garden. Forget-about-it! George could have knocked Carter dead and he still would have been on the outside looking in. As it was, Carter was the perfect foil for George but George tried to look spectacular and got off his game plan and blew the duke, even though I still thought he won, but he wasn’t going to get the decision in New York.

The sports editor of the Daily News, a young fellow named Larry Merchant, covered the Benton-Carter fight:
“Maybe George Benton is blood brother to the jazz artist destined to blow soulfully in obscure cafes forever.

“The night the Decca executive decides to hear him out, he tries to come on bigger than big, tries to make an impression by giving the man what he thinks he wants, which he cannot believe is the pure him because they never wanted the pure him before. What pours out is a distorted wailing that is a parody of all the commercial claptrap he despises.

‘The executive, in a midnight cab, sighs to a flunkey, ‘You know, you can get scat guys anyplace these days. A dime a dozen! What I’m really looking for is someone who can blow soulfully.’

“This is what happened Saturday, in a scene heavy with irony, thick with pathos and sad with the personal tragedy of a decent fellow. George Benton had his chance to blow his soulful music—and he blew up.”

Benton’s real problem was his loyalty to manager Herman Diamond, who refused to do business with certain mob people and that’s why Benton never got a chance at Dick Tiger’s middleweight crown. In fact, the 160-pound title changed hands 22 times during Benton’s 21-year career and he never got a shot.

He boxed twice for me in 1970 at the Blue Horizon and they were his last two fights in Philadelphia. He had one more that year in New York, then got shot in the back during a neighborhood confrontation and never fought again.

The first time he boxed for me was against David Beckles, an ordinary guy from Trinidad, BWI. Beckles was coming to Philadelphia by train from New York and he was late for the weigh-in, very late. Benton had been disappointed numerous times by fighters canceling out on him and he began pacing the floor. Then he sat down on a bench near the front door of the commission offices, chain-smoking and stamping out butts on the floor, one after another. Back then the weigh-ins were at noon the day of the fight and here was Benton finishing off a pack of cigarettes.
Beckles showed nearly up two hours late but George finally got to relax.

That night, there were four prelims. Two ended in the first round, one in the second and one went four rounds to a decision. We had intermission 30 minutes after the first bell and I was in a panic. I went to the dressing room and I asked George if he would carry Beckles for a few rounds so the crowd could get their money’s worth.

“No problem, baby cakes (that’s what he always called me),” Benton said.

Needless to say, George knocked Beckles out in one round. When he got back to the dressing room, I was there, listening to his lame excuse.

“I couldn’t help it, baby cakes, he started firing on me,” he said.

Benton worked hard to earn a 10-round decision over Eddie “Red Top” Owens, of Hartford, CT, two months later in the same ring. After the shooting incident later that year, he was finished as a pro with a record of 62-13-1, 27 K0s. He had boxed in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

A few years later George began training fighters. It’s ironic that he got into the Hall of Fame (right) as a trainer after missing out as a fighter. He backed up Eddie Futch with Joe Frazier after Yank Durham died in 1973, but his first head- training job came with Bennie Briscoe late in 1974.

Briscoe had looked all washed up after a lackluster 10-round decision loss to Emile Griffith that October. Long-time trainer Quenzell McCall and Briscoe had a falling out and Briscoe wanted George to train him. Ironically, Briscoe had beaten George almost a decade earlier in Philadelphia.

George worked magic. Briscoe didn’t lose a fight for nearly four years and he got another world title fight and made more money than at any other time in his 20-year career.

I remember going to Nice, France, with Briscoe late in 1976 to fight Willie Warren for the second time. Imagine traveling with George Benton, Bennie Briscoe and legendary Philadelphia cut man Milt Bailey! What great times we had! I was like a kid in a candy store. You never realize how wonderful those times are until they are in your rearview mirror.

One day in Nice, George saw this beautiful three-piece black-and-white checkered suit in a store window. He wanted to buy it but he didn’t want to spend the money.

“Tell you what,” I said. “If Bennie beats Willie Warren again, I’ll buy the suit for you.”

Briscoe fought poorly, but still did more than enough to win. The official decision, however, was a draw.

The next day, George tells me we’re going to the store to get the suit.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Bennie didn’t win the fight.”

“Now, baby cakes,” he said, “you know well as I do that Bennie won that motherf***ing fight.”
I paid for the suit.

Through it all, George always liked to show me new things he was teaching Briscoe. So he’d have me hold my hands up and then he’d start showing me the punches. But George had a problem pulling his punches so I was always taking hard shots to the kidneys and the rib cage.

“Yo, George, don’t hurt the promoter!” I would yell.
“No problem, baby cakes!”

Article posted on 19.09.2011

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