On April 22, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, four-time world title challenger Martin Murray (35-4-1, 16 KOs) returned to Middleweight, with a majority-decision win over Gabriel Rosado (23-11-0, 13 KOs).
In what was profiled as a must-win contest for both fighters, as well as a fight that would be electrifying, the fight was, for the most part, more tactical and cagey than what spectators and the promoter, expected.
The first three rounds saw both fighters take the center of the ring, and attempt to box from long range, while attempting to counterpunch. There was a minuscule amount of inside fighting, and when Murray was able to push Rosado onto the ropes, he was not able to land clean due to Rosado’s head movement and elusiveness.
However, in Round 4, Rosado was able to nullify Murray’s aggression, by being the aggressor himself, which had some success. This was particularly noticeable when Rosado landed a clean uppercut on Murray, though he seemed unaffected and began to fight back. Rosado would then continue being the aggressor in Round 5.
As the fight progressed, inside exchanges were becoming more common, though fouls were preventing any chance of long periods at close range. A low punch by Murray caused a brief interval in the fight, to allow Rosado some respite. After the action resumed, Murray closed the sixth round with a hard right hand.
Although Murray may have been deemed the larger man, Rosado assumed the role of aggressor the most, by physically imposing himself and pushing Murray back for most of the later rounds.
Rosado would attempt to hit Murray clean on the front foot, while Murray would retreat and try to dissuade his opponent with attacks to the body. At the end of Round 9, the hostility between both fighters increased when Rosado appeared to have hit Murray just after the bell.
From Rounds 10 to 12, the action was a repeat of the earlier narrative, with Murray against the ropes, and then managing to regain his position in the center of the ring. During this, the inside fighting was being marred by fouls again, leading to Murray being warned by the referee for his low punches.
Murray’s lack of accuracy could have been attributed to his exhaustion, which seemed highly apparent when attempting to hold Rosado, after being pressured by him.
The final round would see Rosado being relentless in his pursuit of Murray, pushing him to the ropes many more times. However, Murray’s tactics entailed an unwillingness to throw punches, or be on the front foot. Instead, it was evident that Murray had a desire to counter and clinch his opponent.
Finally, the round came to an end, and both fighters refused to embrace, while staring at one another aggressively.
After a brief wait, Murray would be given the victory by majority decision, with one scorecard being as high as 119-109. Such a score would cause controversy, with Rosado expressing his displeasure loudly. This nearly resulted in a brawl, after Murray confronted and reprimanded Rosado for his protests.
“I said all along I was a level above him,” said Murray. “I give him three rounds, four rounds max.”
Rosado, inevitably, expressed his disagreement at the result. “That’s crazy,” said Rosado. “You felt you won, I thought I won.”
It appears Murray’s venture at Super Middleweight is now over, after declaring he is back at 160 pounds, in his post-fight interview. It remains to be seen when, or if, he is able to seal a fifth world title shot, due to WBC, WBA and IBF champion Gennady Golovkin pursuing a fight against Canelo Alvarez.
What’s more, WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, who was in talks to unify against Golovkin, is with a rival promoter, and is scheduled to return on July 8, against newly-crowned WBO Interim champion, Avtandil Khurtsidze.