Martin Murray will face former world champion Hassan N’Dam as part of a massive night of boxing at the Manchester Arena on December 22, headlined by Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
Murray, 37-4-1, is building towards another world title challenge, with his only career reverses having come in three previous bids – with one drawn – and against former WBA world champion George Groves.
The St Helens warrior put himself firmly in position for a tilt at the WBC title with the winning of the governing body’s Silver middleweight belt in June by defeating the champion Roberto Garcia via a unanimous decision over 12 rounds at the 02 Arena.
He is now up against a dangerous opponent in N’Dam, 36-3, who has operated at world level since winning the WBA Interim world title with a points victory over Avtandil Khurtsidze in 2010.
His winning streak continued with wins over Giovanni Lorenzo and Max Bursak – before he lost on points to Peter Quillin in 2012 with the WBO world middleweight title at stake.
The Frenchman rebuilt with four victories across 2013-14, with the fourth being a landslide points win over Curtis Stevens that qualified him for a shot at the IBF world title. A thrilling encounter with David Lemieux followed with the Canadian prevailing via the scorecards, with N’Dam showing huge bravery after being put to the canvas on four occasions by the heavy-hitting Lemieux.
A further four wins followed for the now 34-year-old before he headed to Japan in May 2017 to face London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Ryōta Murata for the vacant WBA regular world title, which he won via a controversial split decision.
The pair rematched five months later, again on Japanese soil, where N’Dam was forced into retirement in the seventh round.
“He is obviously a good opponent and I have known about him for a while,” reacted Murray to the news of a tough night’s work being booked for him at the Manchester Arena. “He is a former world champion and a good fighter.
“It’s a good fight for me, one where I need to be on top of my game because he can box, he can move and he can fight as well. I am happy with it.
“I don’t want to be fighting in six or eight rounders against opponents who I am going to get out in two or three rounds. I need proper live opponents and this guy is one – and he will be coming to win.
“It is just the sort of fight I need.
“I am creeping my way back up there. It has been a slow rebuilding process from the Groves loss for me, but I am keeping myself afloat now and a win against this guy will keep me in the mix.”
MARK HEFFRON HAS locked horns in training with an informative ally as he prepares to challenge for the vacant British middleweight title against Liam Williams at the Manchester Arena on December 22.
Heffron, 21-0, last week received the welcome news that he would still be competing for the coveted Lonsdale belt against Williams, who is jumping up to 160lbs for a fight that has caused a big stir in the boxing fraternity and one of many that could potentially steal the show on the epic Josh Warrington-Carl Frampton card, live on BT Box Office.
The knockout artist from Oldham – also known as ‘Kid Dynamite’ – is now in possession of some useful inside knowledge on the workings of his opponent, otherwise known as ‘The Machine’.
Because, he shared a ring on Monday with none other than Williams’ nemesis Liam Smith, who has experienced two ultimately successful encounters with the Welshman.
“It was good, man, and I got a good solid eight rounds in with Liam where my fitness was mint,” reported the 27-year-old. “I would say I am ahead of where I thought I would be at this point.
“Yeah he has been telling me loads of things, Liam, just loads. I’ve been taking it all in when he is telling me what Liam Williams is good and bad at.
“I won’t say what, but I have picked up loads of little things myself from watching him too. So with Liam Smith telling me lots of points too I would say everything is going to plan up to now.
“I am looking forward to it,” added the WBC International title holder, who is happy that the British title remains on the line for a fight he considers to be of far greater magnitude than the one he was originally mandated for.
“I’m buzzing, Liam Williams is a big light middleweight anyway and it is a big name for me when I beat him.
“I am still getting to fight for the British and at this level I will beat them all.
“I am even more happy that it is against Liam because he is a massive name for me, much more so than Jason Welborn, and he will bring the best out in me.
“It is a much bigger fight.”
IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington takes on former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on December 22nd live on BT Sport Box Office. Mark Heffron and Liam Williams contest the vacant British middleweight title and Belfast’s blue chip featherweight prospect Michael Conlan (9-0) takes on former commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham (24-5). At heavyweight, Nathan Gorman takes a step up in class against former world title challenger Alex Leapai.
Elsewhere on the bill, world flyweight title challenger Paddy Barnes (5-1) and unbeaten Light Heavyweight contender Steven Ward (9-0) return to action. Manchester’s 12-0 Light Heavyweight Lyndon Arthur and 7-0 Darlington middleweight Troy Williamson also feature.
Tickets are priced at £50 Upper Tier, £80 Tier, £100 Tier, £150 Tier, £200 Floor/Tier, £300 Floor, £400 Floor, £600 Inner Ring VIP Hospitality and are available.
Tickets available via Manchester Arena