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FIGHT PREVIEW: Abraham v Murray & Crolla v Perez II

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After three unsuccessful title challenges at middleweight St Helens fighter Martin Murray (32-2-1, 15 KOs) recently made the move to super-middleweight and will challenge Arthur Abraham (43-4, 29 KOs) for the WBO World super-middleweight title at the Tui Arena, Hannover on Saturday night.

Many felt Murray received a raw deal at the hands of the judges in Germany when he drew with WBA Super World middleweight champion; Felix Sturm in 2011. He was unlucky in his next challenge against WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in Argentina in 2013 despite dropping the champion in the eighth. Then in February this year he was gallant despite being outclassed and eventually stopped by Gennady Golovkin in his third world title challenge.

Since that loss Murray has moved up to super middleweight and added three stoppage victories to his record. He has displayed some lethal body punching since he made the move up in weight but he faces another world class opponent and much sterner test in Arthur Abraham.

Abraham is one of the toughest fighters in the boxing game. He is very effective at what he does, carries an almost impenetrable defence and although he is not the same puncher that he was at middleweight he still carries power. In his last fight back in July Abraham stopped his long-time rival Robert Stieglitz in six rounds for the fourth successful defence of his WBO title.

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Murray has a live chance to beat the champion, he has height and reach advantages over the Abraham and he will be confident that his own punching power. That said Abraham rarely fights outside of Germany and six of his last seven fights have been unanimous points victories in front of a home crowd. There is a belief that it is an impossible task to win a decision against a home town fighter in Germany. Murray learnt this lesson the hard way when he fought Sturm and will be hoping it doesn’t happen again.

This will be a competitive fight and it arguably represents Murray’s best chance to finally win a world title. Some boxing analysts hold the belief that Abraham has been carefully matched and marketed in Germany, his series fights with Robert Stieglitz is evidence of the low risk, high reward opponents he has fought of late. Murray has shown that he belongs on the world stage but the big question is can he go into his opponent’s back yard and take the title? If he could stop Abraham then it is a foregone conclusion but the champion is teak tough so a victory by stoppage seems unlikely.

This will be a competitive fight between two evenly matched thirty something fighters, but given the nature of both their styles and the fact that the fight is taking place in Germany it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if this one ended in a draw.

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Also in action on Saturday, Anthony ‘Million Dollar,’ Crolla (29-4-3, 11 KOs) will be seeking to put right his draw in July with a rematch against WBA World Lightweight champion Darleys Perez (32-1-1, 20 KOs) in front of a home crowd at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

Many felt Crolla had done enough to win the first fight, he used his movement and counter punching to good effect but Perez was the heavier puncher throughout. Crolla did wobble the champion in the second but many of the other rounds remained close. When Perez was deducted a point in each of the final two rounds for low blows many felt the victory was Crolla’s but the judges scored it one a piece and one even.

Fans should expect the rematch to be another competitive close fight, Crolla lacks sufficient punching power to trouble the champion, had he had more venom in his punches then many of the rounds in the first fight could have been clearly scored in his favour. Perez is naturally the bigger puncher and Crolla should avoid becoming reckless in the rematch as emotions will undoubtedly run high.

This one remains a 50/50 but as home advantage lies with Crolla then it’s possible he might go one step further this time and lift the title on home soil.

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Crolla v Perez II & Abraham v Murray are live on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday 21st November from 8pm.

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