MURPHY’S LAW – “IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG, IT WILL”
Friday 9th December 2011
It’s the day before the fight and the weigh-in is at 3pm in County Durham.
Frank Maloney spoke to my team today and asked if we had fully signed with Hatton Promotions yet? He said that as he was interested in signing me “as we have been a pleasure to work with and very professional”. Nice feedback.
Frank gets a very mixed press in boxing circles but he has promoted and managed some of the very best, including Lennox Lewis.
Frank was fine throughout this promotion, and he worked very hard on getting a replacement in a very short space of time. I did have the opportunity to sign up with Frank a few years ago, but I have to say I’m very excited and looking forward to working with Hatton Promotions.
Mark Harnell and his wife, who is my cousin Carla, mentioned Frank to me many years ago. Carla first heard of me when she saw me on a poster whilst she was in Eugene Maloney’s gym, he’s Frank’s brother. Her father and my father are first cousins.
I’ve worked with over ten promoters in my career to date, and this has been the most trying and difficult promotion I have ever appeared on and it is by some distance, the lowest pay day I’ll receive this year. It’s always the case, ‘Murphy’s law’.
I woke up this morning weighing 141.6lbs. I went for a gentle jog to Primrose Hill and back, which took thirty eight minutes. I stretched, had porridge with sliced bananas and honey for breakfast. I had a hot bath and weighed myself again. I was 138.4lbs. That was perfect. I could now drink my necessary fluids on the way to County Durham, and not be in any fear of coming in overweight.
It was a long and gruelling train ride and I got to County Durham around 2.30pm. Frank Maloney had a driver waiting for me to take me to the hotel. When I got there everyone was there already; Sky Sports, the British Boxing Board of Control officials, the media and the fighters.
At 3pm the weigh in started. Ben weighed 140lbs on the dot. I weighed 140.4lbs. I was surprised and embarrassed, as I am meticulous with my weight management regime. I couldn’t help feeling a little unprofessional. The fluid I drank during the train ride had tipped me over the weight limit.
Ben Murphy and his team (especially Johnny Eames) seemed delighted, and perhaps thought I was struggling to make the weight, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I went in the bathroom, and skipped for ten minutes, and came back to make the weight. I was 140lbs on the dot, but a little angry with myself.
I took my pre-fight medical and did some media interviews. I was now ‘back in the zone’.
I had brought some sushi and a protein drink with me, so I topped myself up and was feeling good.
Johnny Eames had made the trip with Ben. He came up to me saying “I knew our paths would cross again”. He must have jumped at the chance to take the fight, and had obviously told Ben that he could beat me and how he could beat me.
He was a lot more animated than usual; he really wanted to beat me, which is natural, as I had left his gym. It must be quite frustrating for him to see me rise and rise and win the British title. He was ‘ultra pumped-up’, and I would be a huge scalp for him, especially as I had beaten world class fighters and remained ‘upwardly mobile’. Boxing lends itself to grudge matches, but it’s usually between the boxers, rarely do the trainers get this ‘involved’.
Johnny even gave an interview saying he “knows how to beat me” and he wishes he “had more time” but he will “give Murphy the plan, and it’s up to him to execute it”.
Whilst I was at TKO gym, I worked more with Peter Swinney than Johnny, so if it was Peter who was saying that ‘he knew how to beat me’, I would take that much more seriously. Johnny is a little bitter, maybe because he twice offered me the opportunity to fight for the British title but and I turned it down. I am the British champion now. Since we split; I have fought world number two, Danny Garcia, world number three, Delvin Rodriguez, British champion, Lenny Daws, and former European champion, Jason Cook. Not bad at all.
I have vastly improved in the two and a half years since leaving Johnny, so I see little chance of an upset, as his views on my ability are based on what he saw during 2006 to 2009, and I am no longer that fighter. I am now world class and world champion potential.
My current trainer, Harry Keit had flown in from New York and was here, waiting for me and we caught up with one another, and enjoyed each other’s company. We went for a meal at an Italian restaurant with some fun Liverpudlians. I had some garlic bread, a prawn and rice dish, but I couldn’t finish my main course, which was a spaghetti and chicken dish, as I was way too full. We got back to the hotel 90 minutes later, and I went straight to my room as I was feeling very tired.
Promoter and ex-boxer Spencer Fearon called me on the drive to town with the Liverpudlians. He said how his fighter, Darren Hamilton had been offered the fight and wanted to take it, as the money would have been his most lucrative boxing cheque to date. Spencer said he knew I had had a terrific training camp in America, and I would be a real handful even with six weeks’ notice for the fight, let alone four days. So he declined, but Darren was happy his name was up there in the mix.
Ben’s manager, Mickey Helliet was very happy to be associated with such a big fight. Mickey had tried to sign me some ten years ago, when I was an amateur, after my fight with ABA champion Lee Beavis in the North West Division Finals.
Ben Murphy was a seven to one underdog, but he really thought he had a real chance of an upset. ‘Come forward’ fighters are usually made for me. That’s relatively straightforward work. I’ll need to focus on my movement and boxing for the first couple of rounds to see what he is made of; then start putting my punches together. I want to systematically break him down, and then really go to work on him.
He will obviously rush me at the start. This I know, but I’m expecting that. I’m the best he has ever fought. He will try and overwhelm me and go for broke. Theory is always easy, but I’ve learned the hard way that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’.
Adam Smith, who is the Head of Boxing at Sky Sports, is covering my fight, and they are really getting behind me, which feels great. He told me that I have the perfect platform to perform tomorrow.
Mark Harnell, husband of my cousin Carla, mentioned that “Frank Maloney will be getting loads of SKY dates next year”, and he would be “great to sign with”. I said I had a great deal with Ricky Hatton, who really understands and shares my ambition and it just doesn’t get much better than that.
I left the group after arriving back from the restaurant as my stomach was in some pain due to over eating, and I was totally exhausted.
Saturday 10 December 2011
I slept from 8pm to 11pm then watched television for a few hours. I went to bed just after 2am, and woke up at 7:30am which was breakfast time.
I went down to the restaurant where the lady from the front desk was still amused that when I said I had to ‘check in’ yesterday, it sounded as though I had said “I need a chicken”. Despite sharing a common English language in the UK, accents rule! We laughed together she was a nice woman, so it was all good fun. She asked about my boxing and we spoke briefly with much humility, about Nigel Wright’s manager, Gus Robinson who tragically committed suicide a few weeks ago.
I enjoyed a hearty breakfast. I had a bowl of porridge with honey, four slices of toast, a full plate of scrambled eggs, baked beans, mushrooms and three hash browns. I had three pots of Muller corner yogurts, and three glasses of orange juice to wash it all down. No more weight management, I really tucked in. I went back to my room full, and relaxed in bed for the remainder of the day.
I watched some current affairs and news on TV throughout the morning, and then in the afternoon, I watched four of my favourite fighters; Pernell Whitaker, Marvin Hagler, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather.
Ben Murphy is seriously hyped up for the fight, so for the first few rounds I need to box carefully and be smart, then start to break him down.
Ambrose Mendy commented that I am three fights away from a world title shot. That means a lot to me especially coming from him, as he guided Nigel Benn to the world title. I respect his point of view immensely. The first time I met him, I just listened intently as he spoke to me. I had seen him on TV as a little kid when he managed Nigel Benn, who was my favourite British fighter in the 1990s.
Promoter Miranda Carter, who I have worked with many times, advised me just to do what I normally do. She always matched me with aggressive come forward fighters like Ben, so I am more than used to being the ‘matador to the bull’. Looks like a relatively easy night’s work?
Sunday 11th December 2012
How wrong could I be? What a tough, tough fight! Ben gave everything and more. He was game, strong and unrelenting. You can never underestimate anyone, or worse still, judge them just by their record. Maybe there will now be a queue forming for me for my next title defence which is a voluntary one. One thing is for certain, under sustained pressure in a volatile atmosphere, I demonstrated that I have the skills, heart, determination and a ‘never say die spirit’ – a true champion.
I’m learning the hard way that it’s seriously tough being the champion, as every opponent is extra charged and hyper motivated. It’s like having a permanent target on your head. I kill myself in the gym, and take myself to the limit every day, and because of that, I’m always confident that I will come out on top.
Ben jumped on me for all of the first six rounds. I expected that for the first four rounds, but not at that sustained intensity. He was incredibly short and ducking really low and firing from all angles, this made him the most difficult of targets. I had prepared for a different kind of fight, even if I had prepared specifically for Ben, I might still have struggled as he was a non-stop, ‘Duracell bunny’ like, ‘threshing machine’.
In the third round, another series of dangerous but wild swings left me with a perforated left ear drum. I knew something was up, I was struggling with my balance, but there was no time to even think or analyse what had happened. It was only in my post fight medical that the perforation was confirmed leading to a 28 day suspension on medical grounds.
I spar and train with world class operators, who are solid and well-schooled technicians. The best fighters never just ‘steam in’ and throw all caution to the wind. This was taking me back to my long forgotten early days in the game. Ben’s near maniacal approach is very hard for anyone to prepare for, and with no hint of rudeness or disrespect, he has no real style or technique. He just throws everything at you, incessantly, with zero let up, at times it felt like ‘a bar room brawl’.
He was in fabulous shape for someone who took the fight at such short notice, and I have nothing but ultimate respect for him, as he just kept swinging and driving me back.
There were only two rounds to go, and I was clearly trailing on all three scorecards. My trainer, Harry Keit, told me that I had to knock him out, and now. I took his instructions seriously and went all out for the stoppage. I will never be like Ben, ‘all out’ for me means still avoiding all that’s thrown at me, but being far more assertive and aggressive.
It’s vital to have a voice you trust and listen to in your corner. Harry knows me well and is never over demonstrative or loud, but I follow his calm but clear instructions.
Many people don’t quite understand why it is so important to have a first class cut man on board, but having Mick Williamson in my corner gives me huge piece of mind. He was Ricky Hatton’s cut man, and Ricky would fly him all over the world in case of cuts. Mick has been in the business for 30 years and he is worth his weight in gold.
Mick said he was very proud of me, and that I dug really deep when it counted. That’s what champions are about. That kind of praise from Mick means a heck of a lot to me, as he has been part of many big world title fights, and he definitely knows what it takes to be a champion.
It was flattering to hear that Frank Maloney is interested in signing me, but I know that Ricky is the man to get me the chances I need and I’m very comfortable and pleased with his support and shared ambition.
I woke up to the shock that Amir Khan had lost his titles in Washington DC. It is very dangerous fighting a hungry challenger in his home town. I also thought it would be a routine defence against Nigel Wright in his hometown.
Ben Murphy proved when you have you have nothing to lose you can be very dangerous indeed. Lamont Peterson, whom I thought was a little overrated, and I believe I could beat, rose to the opportunity and won a little controversially, in his hometown.
Erik Morales is now fighting Danny Garcia, who I shared a razor close fight with in 2010. They will fight on 28th January 2012. I am sure I have a world title challenge around the corner, especially as Delvin Rodriguez, who was world number three when I beat him, challenged a year ago for the world title, losing a split decision and after a draw and win over Pawel Wolak this year, he is back in the top five and closing in on a shot with Saul Alvarez. He was supposed to fight Alvarez in September 2010 but after losing to me, he lost that shot.
Former world champion Steve Forbes, who has fought some of the world’s best has mentioned me, Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley as the three fighters in the 140lbs division he respects as fighters.
Erik Morales, Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson are the current world champions in my weight division and they are my target for 2012. I feel on my day I could pull out a win against any of them. The better the fighter, the better I fight.
Ben Murphy gave absolutely everything and deserves all the praise in the world. I honestly didn’t think I underestimated him, but he performed way above anyone’s expectation. Johnny Eames will not be a happy man, but Ben certainly should be. We spoke in the dressing room after the fight and he was a gracious gladiator who went out on his shield.
But, I’m still the champion.
The true test of a champion is not when he is winning easily or knocking an opponent out early, but how he deals with adversity. Despite having to dig really deep, I delivered.
I’m looking forward to 2012 with relish.