By Dean Parr – On June 13th, John Murray defends his British lightweight title against the current English lightweight champion Scott Lawton in Wigan, England. While Murray is the favourite and is widely expected to retain his crown, I do feel that people are overlooking the ring savvy Lawton and see him as an easy fight for the champion..
However, in my opinion, Murray is going to be in for a difficult night for many reasons. First of all, motivation will be an issue. Murray readily admits that he would rather be in a nightclub than a boxing gym, and for him staying active is very important. However, this will only be his third fight in twelve months, and there will be some ring rust as he hasn’t fought since January. In addition, the majority of people think he will dominate his mandatory opponent, and when he thinks he will have an easy fight, he doesn’t perform to the best of his ability. This was demonstrated against slick boxer Youssef Al-Hamidi, where he never got started, and some even believe Hamidi won that fight. In contrast to this though, Lawton knows this will probably his last chance to win a British title, and he is in great form.
While it seems that Lawton loses every time he jumps up to the top domestic level (as shown in his losses to Amir Khan and Jon Thaxton), he has not been defeated since the Khan loss, and he even handed the undefeated Martin Gethin his first loss. Lawton (26-4-1 5KOs) doesn’t have knock out power, but he is experienced and could be technical enough to hand Murray his first defeat. While he may not be quite as fast as Lee McAllister (Murray’s last victim) he is awkward enough to give Murray some problems.
For Murray though, this fight is a necessary evil. While he has world title ambitions, he is currently working towards making a Lonsdale belt his own, and a win in this fight would open up an exciting encounter against Jon Thaxton in October. He needs to grind out a victory, and even though Lawton is the underdog, Murray will need to be on top of his game to look impressive, and most will expect him to stop his rival.
While Lawton is no Amir Khan, I feel it will be interesting to see how Murray fares against this type of boxer. He showed against McAllister his stamina and power can eventually get past speed, and if he can demonstrate his ability once again against Lawton, it could possibly be an early indicator that he can beat the quick fisted Khan. McAllister certainly took some shots off Murray that I’m sure Khan couldn’t take, and if Lawton faces similar punishment, Murray may well see his hopes of a fight against Khan go down the drain as Frank Warren would see it as too much of a risk to put Khan in with him. However, while Khan has attempted to leapfrog the domestic front, if Murray catches up with him on the European/World level, a Manchester super fight may be unavoidable for Khan.
In the meantime though, if Murray gets through this and wins his fight against Jon Thaxton, expect him to go for the European crown (currently held by Anthony Mezaache) and try to vault himself to world level for there.
In conclusion, Murray has a very good chance of winning this fight and has lots of good qualities, including a good chin, power in both hands and as the fight wears on, relentless pressure. Expect all the fancy footwork and speed in this fight to come from Lawton, but assuming he hasn’t overlooked his adversary, expect all the meaningful shots to come from the Mancunian. Personally, I think the British Antonio Margarito (minus the plaster of Paris!) will prevail by knockout in the seventh round, after being outboxed for the first three or four sessions, and because of the bad styles match up for him, Murray will be made to look very unimpressive.