WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) roughed up his overmatched one-paced challenger Martin Murray (39-6-1, 17 KOs) in defeating him by an ugly 12 round unanimous decision behind closed doors at the SSE Arena in Wembley, UK.
The referee played it loose with the rules in letting Saunders get away with using his head, throwing rabbit punches and low blows without penalizing him.
It was troubling to watch how often the referee warned Saunders about him sticking his head into the face of Murray. At some point, the referee should have nipped that behavior from Billy Joe in the bud by taking points away, but he didn’t.
Murray, 38, looked like a classic older fighter, who couldn’t pull the trigger anymore with his shots.
Saunders looked good tonight, but he had the perfect opponent to do so facing the shot Murray, which is why he obviously wanted him as an opponent. This is the fight that Billy Joe asked for, and you can understand why.
That had been his problem throughout his career, but tonight it was even worse, as Murray was mostly just covering up and getting picked apart by Saunders.
Saunders won by the scores:
It’s hard to see Murray winning any rounds in the fight, as he was getting picked apart the entire 12 rounds by Billy Joe.
While Saunders did look good, he still didn’t show the form that suggests that he belongs with the elite in the division.
Canelo Alvarez, Callum Smith, David Benavidez, and Caleb Plant all would have likely beaten Billy Joe if they’d been in there with him.
You can throw in the young 23-year-old Edger Berlanga as well. Apart from those guys, Saunders would likely beat the other super middleweights, but he’s clearly not one of the elite. He’s a run below.
WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders makes his second defense of his title tonight against Martin Murray at Wembley Stadium.
Live early undercard results for Saunders vs. Murray:
In a devasting performance, lightweight contender James ”The Assassin’ Tennyson (28-3, 24 KOs) walked through the previously undefeated Josh O’Reilly (16-1, 6 KOs) in stopping him in a two-knockdown performance in their WBA 135-lb title eliminator.
Tennyson, 27, knocked O’Reilly down twice with big shots leading up to the fight being stopped. O’Reilly was taking heavy punishment against the ropes when referee Marcus McDonnell stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:14 of the round.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s hoping to step Tennyson up against Jorge Linares to get him ready for a world title shot against WBA lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez.
The 35-year-old Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) might have a little bit too much speed, seasoning, and talent for Tennyson. But if Tennyson can’t beat Linare, he has no business being in the ring with Teofimo or WBA ‘regular’ lightweight champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
Those guys are worlds better than anyone Tennyson has ever fought during his short career.
- Shannon Courtenay (6-1, 3 KOs) TKO 7 Dorota Norek (6-2, 1 KOs).
- Lewis Edmondson (4-0, 1 KOs) TKO 3 John Telford (11-3-1, 2 KOs).
- Donte Dixon (5-0, 3 KOs) points six Angelo Dragone (5-2). Score: 58-56.
- Lerrone Richards (14-0, 3 KOs) points eight Timo Laine (28-15, 12 KOs). Score: 80-72.
In the main event, Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) will be attempting to keep his unbeaten record intact with a fight against the well-traveled Murray (39-5-1, 17 KOs).
Saunders is coming off of a 13-month layoff since stopping challenge Marcelo Esteban Coceres in the 11th round last year in November 2019 in Los Angeles, California
The 31-year-old Billy Joe is going to need a better performance than that tonight if he wants to beat the 38-year-old Murray because he’s capable of dethroning him if he’s not 100 percent.
Saunders’ career has been a disappointment despite him capturing world titles at 160 and 168. He’s fought a lot of less than specular fighters, and he’s taken a careful approach when challenging for world titles.
For example, Saunders won his WBO super middleweight title in 2019 against an obscure fighter named Shefat Isufi. In 2015, Saunders defeated Andy Lee to win the WBO 160-lb title.
Murray has only come up short against world level fighters, but he’s also failed to beat anyone of note during his career.
Martin’s past defeats:
- Gennady Golovkin
- Arthur Abraham
- George Groves
- Hassan Ndam
- Sergio Martinez
Murray fought to a controversial 12 round draw against WBA super-middleweight champion Felix Sturm in 2011 in Mannheim, Germany. That was a contest that arguably should have been won by Murray.
If Saunders loses to Murray, it’ll throw a wrench in his hopes of taking on the winner of the December 19th fight between WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith and Canelo Alvarez.
That’s the fight that Saunders and his promoter Eddie Hearn have their eyes on with hopes of making a unification match in 2021.
Saunders also is interested in taking on Gennadiy Golovkin, but he has doubts that he wants any part of him.
“I feel like I am avoided,” Saunders complained to Sky Sports. “I have to deal with Murray accordingly and professionally.
“The only step there is left is Canelo or to unify with anybody with a title.
“Does he want somebody with not many miles on the clock, good with his feet, southpaw, slick, around him at that age?” said Saunders about Golovkin.
Golovkin, 38, fights at middleweight, not at 168, and he’s interested in fighting a trilogy match against Canelo in May 2021. If Saunders were popular in the U.S, Golovkin would likely be interested in facing him.