News May 2007

Golden Pair inspired by de la Hoya

4 May 2007

Training alongside Oscar de la Hoya has inspired John Murray and John O’Donnell to put on an eye-catching display at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The Hennessy Sports duo box on the undercard of their US co-promoters highly anticipated clash against Floyd Mayweather, arguably the biggest fight in boxing history.
Manchester lightweight Murray takes on American Lorenzo Bethea over eight, while London-based welterweight O’Donnell boxes over ten against Mexican Christian Solano, who took the highly regarded Julio Cesar Chavez Junior to a ten round points decision in his last fight.

Solano, who has stopped 14 of his 19 victims, is the only one of JC Junior’s last seven opponents to hear the final bell.

The ‘Golden Pair’ are two of the hottest prospects in Europe. Murray, 22, has stopped half of his opponents and became the first British fighter to win the WBC Youth Title two years ago. That triumph earned him the 2006 British Boxing Writers’ Young Boxer of the Year award.

He is already familiar to US fight fans after impressively out-pointing Johnny Walker in Florida in 2005, when he was on the same bill as Jeff Lacy's win over Robin Reid. But this experience is on a whole new level for Murray, who has enjoyed being part of the big-time atmosphere.

“I have loved every minute of the build up to the fight and our preparation has been spot on. I reckon I can impress a few people on Saturday,” he said.

“I have already got a great reception out here from the US fans who have seen me fight. A lot of Mexicans have been coming up to me as well and saying they love my style.”

He added: “It was great to train alongside de la Hoya at his gym. Not many young fighters get that kind of experience. Then to spar four rounds with Shane Mosley earlier this week just topped it off. I’m on a high. It’s given me a real edge for Saturday.

"The experience I will be getting by boxing on such a big show will stand me in good stead for the future. The world’s media will be watching the show, so I will be looking to put on a great performance and shine in front of everyone.”

O’Donnell, 21, who has strong Irish heritage, won the English Welterweight Title in his last fight and has won all 15 of his professional fights after a distinguished amateur career which saw him win Junior Olympic Gold.

The welterweight - who carries the ancient Irish symbol and the ancient Irish wording for ‘The Golden One’ on his gown - claims mixing with world champions ahead of his US debut has made him eager to perform well.

"It was an inspiration to train alongside Oscar de la Hoya at his gym in LA,” said O’Donnell. “He's a true superstar of the sport.

“Sparring with Shane Mosley, a four-times world champion, was just unbelievable. Especially when I saw out of the corner of my eye that Oscar de la Hoya was watching me whilst he was skipping.

“I learnt so much and it was a great experience. This whole week has just been such a good lesson for me.

“Now I want to round it off with great display. After meeting de la Hoya and Mosley, I’m in the mood to put on a show. It could really help my career if I can put on a good performance, which I'm going to do.

"My opponent is a tough Mexican who took Julio Chavez Junior ten rounds, so it's a good test for me. And it will make a good comparison; Chavez is a fight I’m after. He’s my age and my weight - it’s a fight that makes sense.

“I would also box anyone in the British welterweight division right now – and I would beat any of them. I could fight for the British title in the summer – I’m definitely ready for it.

“Kevin Anderson is the British champion right now and I would fight him tomorrow. Then there’s Eamonn Magee, Takaloo and Michael Jennings. I’m capable of beating any of them in style.”

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