Murray defends WBC title at Ally Pally live on Sky Sports

12.09.06 - Two WBC championships are to be contested on the Hennessy Sports ‘World Honours’ event at the Alexandra Palace this Friday, (September 15th), being screened live by Sky Sports. The highly anticipated top of the bill clash between Bradford’s Junior Witter and Washington’s DeMarcus Corley for the prestigious governing body’s vacant super lightweight crown will now be supported by John Murray’s first defence of their world youth lightweight title, designed to prepare outstanding prospects under the age of 23 for full honours..

The 21-year-old Murray from Manchester made history last December by becoming the first ever Brit to lift the honour with an eighth round technical points victory over teak-tough Colombian Nacho Mendoza. He faces an equally stiff opponent this time out in Mouibi Sarouna from Togo.

In order to continue their development, Youth Champions are permitted to defend against over-aged contenders when other suitable opponents cannot be found. Sarouna, who cannot hold the title if successful, stepped up to the plate after a raft of eligible challengers turned the opportunity down.

“He looks a tough kid,” appraised Murray’s trainer Joe Gallagher. “They usually are from that part of the world. He only has a couple of losses, has 16 good wins and a decent number of ko’s. He’s never been stopped himself and his record suggests that he brings enough ammo to put you over if he catches you.”

It is testament to John Murray’s faith in his own ability that he is prepared to take on such a stiff challenge with a British Title eliminator against domestic rival Ricky Burns only a month away.

“Admittedly, there have been a few raised eyebrows that John is fighting on this show,” added Gallagher. “People are asking what about Ricky Burns, but it is paramount that John has this contest before he fights Burns. He needs another shake off – he has only had one fight since Mendoza because of the bruising he suffered.

“This is the perfect preparation. It’s also a great opportunity for John to further increase his profile. He will be defending a WBC Youth Title on a very prestigious show headlined by a genuine world title. It’s the sort of thing young fighters dream about.

“There are going to plenty of journalists there – a lot of eyeballs – so John will have another chance to prove to the media that he is a world class prospect. He is looking forward to putting on another show in London.”

Murray already has his admirers. He is one of the favourites to claim this year’s Boxing Writer’s Young Boxer of the Year Award and was named as Sky’s shooting star for 2006. Even so, it appears the best may still be yet to come.

“I’m only just starting to put it all together now,” began Murray. “There has been a lot going on in the background, but I am putting that all behind me. I can relax now I am in safe hands with Mick Hennessy and I am working flat out with Joe in the gym. I’m feeling sensational. I’m still improving at a fast rate.

“I am building a lot of experience as well. Over the last 12 months I have fought in America and Canada and beaten tough opponents from The States, Russia and Colombia. Now I am fighting an African. It’s all going to stand me in good stead. There’s only the Mexican’s to go!

“I’m chuffed to bits to be defending this belt on such a big show with a full WBC title on it. It’s a good chance for us Brits to show the Americans and Mexicans that we are worthy of these belts, that they don’t have a monopoly. Most of the Youth Titles are held by them as well.”

Murray has also been fastidiously working on improving his strength with renowned strength coach Kerry Kayes, who he sees as having been pivotal in Ricky Hatton’s career.

“Kerry was working with Ricky before the Kostya Tszyu fight and I think it really showed,” Murray added. “I think he is going to have a big impact on me as well. In addition to running in the morning and working in the gym in the afternoon I am now going to his gym three times a week in the evening. Joe says he can already feel the extra power on the pads; I’m turning into a really strong mature fighter.”

The Hennessy Sports ‘World Honours’ event takes place at the Alexandra Palace on Friday 15th September. The latest bill is attached. For further information please visit Tickets, priced £35, £60 and £125 are available from ticketmaster on 0870 060 1795.

Article posted on 12.09.2006

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