Underdog John Murray: I can beat Brandon Rios
Following the recent revelations of John Murray's knockout loss, drinking rumours and splitting with boyhood trainer Joe Gallager - not many could predict he would have wound up fighting the division's numero uno in Brandon Rios, for the WBA lightweight strap before the year was out.
But the fairy tale ending to an emotional year for fans of the Manchester fighting machine, is far from assured.
Murray's chances have been rapidly written off by most of the boxing public already when news of the fight was broken on the boxing wire last week. Many believe Rios is far better than Mitchell and the wrong opponent for a stoppage-loss comeback fight.
However Murray aims to prove his critics wrong and bring his career back with a bang.
"I'm going to be in phenomenal condition," Murray told BBC Radio Manchester.
But will he be folks? Afterall, we have seen perhaps two of the worst performances of his career in 2011. And prior to both we we're told what fantastic shape he was in.
"I'm over the moon at the minute, I'm ready to go to work and bring back that title. It's a massive challenge, but it gets the fire in the belly going. I've been in training for four weeks already, I'm going over there to win this."
The fight will be his first without long term trainer Joe Gallagher at his side, whom has expressed disappointment recently that having lead Murray to the top, at the expense of his own marriage and children, that John has decided to dump him following the defeat.
Gallagher also cited Murray's drunken antics just a week or two ahead of the fight, as also being detrimental to his performance and overall attitude to the sport. But Murray wouldn't be drawn on the matter and said the following diplomatically:-
"It was a massive decision, I started with Joe when I was 14 years old as an amateur. I felt the timing was right, as in the last couple of fights I've felt a bit one-dimensional.
"The time was right to do something new, to freshen things up."
Murray will certainly need to do something new. Otherwise he will get destroyed by Rios far quicker than he was stopped by Kevin Mitchell.
The time for glossing over Murray's problems need to end now. It's one thing refreshing his trainer, but he needs to freshen his approach to the sport. Boozing just days ahead of the biggest fight of your career shows a complete disregard to himself and the ticket-buying supporters who follow him.
Cutting corners against Brandon Rios would be the worst mistake of his life, let alone his boxing career - as the Oxnard man will serve up a career-ending beating.
Murray needs to get himself back on track, to put in the hard yards and find the form of his life. As a fan of the fighter, I hope he can prove us all wrong and produce the best display of his career.
Because a win will catapult him to the big time.
A close, but gallant loss will see his career plateau.
But a crushing defeat will see his stock as a fighter plummet.
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