Martin Murray arrives in South Africa this weekend to set up camp ahead of his February 21 clash with WBC Interim and WBA and IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in Monte-Carlo on February 21.
The Englishman is in the middle of a 12-week training programme his advisor Andrew Mikhail describes as “pure hell” in anticipation of the toughest fight of his 31-bout career.
With no family in tow, Murray intends leading a Spartan training existence, going out only to former welterweight contender Harold Volbrecht’s nearby gym on the eastern side of Johannesburg for workouts. He will have trainer Oliver Harrison, two UK sparring partners and his chef alongside, leaving nothing to chance in his third championship crack.
Murray respects Golovkin, but cares little for the prediction that he will be yet another lamb to the slaughter next month.
“This is once in a lifetime, a massive fight. I’m up for it, I really am. Golovkin is favourite, but I’ve been in this position before, against Sergio Martinez. I don’t focus on what people say. I’m doing what I do. The more people who think he beats me, the better.”
The warm African conditions, Johannesburg’s 1700m (5577 feet) altitude and excellent training facilities appealed to Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) despite having to leave his family behind.
“It’s painful,” he said, “but I’m giving myself every possibility. It’s all business.”
Speaking while working up a sweat on his stationary bike at home in St Helens, Murray said that he had spent a lot of time watching Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) on tape. “I like watching the best of my opponents. It switches me on more.”
He sees what we all do, chiefly power and speed, but he also sees chinks in the champion’s armour.
“I’m big for a middleweight and have a lot of advantages in size and defence.”
His sparring partners, who will be supplemented by South African fighters, will be expected to mimic Golovkin. “I want them throwing bombs, that’s what I’m looking for,” Murray says excitedly.
Mikhail is one of the few expecting an upset from the WBC # 1 contender. “Martin is putting himself through the pain barrier like I’ve never seen before. It’s on a different level. His mind is so powerful, it’s unbelievable.
“Things could hardly be worse than fighting in Argentina, as he did in 2013, when he had 50 000 Argentines baying for him, spitting on him. In Monte-Carlo three-quarters of the arena will be full of Englishmen.”
He says that Golovkin cannot afford to be complacent. “We recently watched all his fights. Martin is far and away the best he will have fought. Martin would have beaten all the guys Golovkin has. Golovkin is unbelievable, but he has faults as well. If he can KO Martin, he’s very special. I would then rate him the greatest middleweight of them all, like a Hagler or a Sugar Ray. I really mean that.”
Murray himself is counting the days to his big fight date. “I want this more than anything. This is my time. I must keep cracking on.”
GOLOVKIN vs MURRAY is presented by Golden Gloves of South Africa, K2 Promotions, GGG Promotions, Expo 2017 and Tsesnabank, Casino de Monte-Carlo along with Monte-Carlo SBM.
The fight will be broadcast internationally from the beautiful Salle des Etoiles venue in Monte-Carlo.