Domestic rivals, BJS and Martin Murray finally enter the ring on 4th December 2020 to put to bed their rivalry.
Matchroom: Saunders vs Murray Predictions & Results
BJS fights as sporadically as the elite fighters, why then, does BJS face opposition of a domestic level? Obviously, this is tongue in cheek, Murray is a weathered veteran who has fought for a long time around the European and fringe world level. But BJS really is doing his very best to waste his prime as he either waits for his big opportunity against a GGG or Canelo, or cowers from the challenge.
At the very least, this match-up has a bit of a tasty backstory. Rewinding the clocks back to the end of 2017, BJS had silenced many doubters by leaving the safety of the UK and battering a flailing David Lemieux over twelve rounds in his hometown. After one of the most impressive performances of any boxer that year, BJS was set-up to fight with Murray a few months later, but after several strange occurances, BJS pulled out with a rather tame excuse of a ‘hand injury’. BJS’ excuse lost its value later in the year when he was to test positive for oxilofrine (the same substance that caught Tyson Gay out). A lost opportunity for a world title, wasted expenses on a fruitless camp, and left humiliatingly in the dark as the B party, Martin Murray had every right to be furious with the BJS debacle. On the 4th December, Murray finally has his opportunity to make up for lost time and bring the pain to his rival.
The rest of the card is pretty tasty, much better than the Usyk Chisora PPV card. James Tennyson returns on his path back to a world title shot, Zach Parker attempts to make himself the next WBO mandatory, Shannon Courtenay is back to chav up the arena, and Lerrone Richards searches for his break-out performance.
Super Middleweight (168)
WBO World Super Middleweight Title
Billy Joe Saunders (29-0, 14KO) vs Martin Murray (39-5-1, 17KO)
It is so incredibly hard to still be a Billy Joe Saunders fan in 2020. Firstly, BJS does not have the natural charm that Tyson Fury possesses, yet despite this, he still launches random tirades which fail to hit the mark. Whether it was BJS’ instructional video on how to batter the wife over lockdown, or the mocking of a drug addict, BJS has painted his own target on his back. Moreover, BJS has so-far failed to live-up to the hype surrounding him. Without a career defining fight against Canelo or GGG, BJS has fought the dregs of Middleweight and Super Middleweight. It does not help then, that BJS performs to the level of opposition he faces. Against the painfully robotic Shefat Isufi and Artur Akavov, BJS sluggishly fought through the motions, while against the threatening power of David Lemieux, BJS skated across the ring with a boxing display that wouldn’t look amiss in Hollywood.
Ignoring all the issues and controversies, at his core he is a tricky Southpaw with an excellent eye for openings. Working behind a regular jab, BJS dances inches from the range of his opponent and frustrates them with feints and arm punches. After assessing his opponent for a couple rounds, BJS is more confident in his front-foot and engaging in the pocket. While there isn’t any power to write home about, BJS can break opponents with regular combinations and a slippery defence which sees him absorb very little. A decent high guard is used as an emergency, but BJS tends to slip incoming punches, roll with them on the shoulder or jump out of the range before they land.
Martin Murray is going to need a miracle on Friday night if he is to finally secure a world title. At thirty-eight, the St Helens scrapper has been at the wrong end of some punishing losses throughout his career. Stopped by Golovkin, out-gunned by Abraham, and stylistically inferior to George Groves and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Murray is a fighter with a very clear ceiling. Murray keeps his gloves up for the full twelve rounds and baits opponents into entering the pocket. While it causes Murray to take punishment, the aim is to coax his opponent into the pocket, in which he can use his height advantage to make the fight ugly. Leaning on his counterpart in the clinch, rubbing his head into cuts, and landing dirty shots to the body, Murray breaks fighters mentally. Murray is too slow, both footwork and hand speed, to punish BJS at range.
Predicted Result: BJS Decision
Murray is a hearty fighter who will continue to battle to the final bell. Unfortunately for Murray, he has never had the skillset needed to secure a belt. Without any real intricacy to his offence, nor the athletic abilities to out-work an opponent, Murray has been a sitting duck against the big boys of Middleweight. BJS does have a tendency to dip late in fights, but he should have banked more than enough rounds before his conditioning becomes an issue.
Result: BJS def. Murray // Decision (unanimous – 118-110, 120-109, 120-109)
James Tennyson (27-3, 23KO) vs Josh O’Reilly (16-0, 6KO)
It does not seem that long ago that James Tennyson had surprisingly found himself in a world title shot against the loud mouthed American, Tevin Farmer. A shock stoppage win over Martin Joseph Ward saw the Northern Irishman finally leave the stranglehold of the domestic scene. Sadly, Tennyson was picked apart by Farmer and eventually stopped by the feather duster. Since then, Tennyson has rebuilt himself from the ground up. Fighting journeyman to start off 2019, Tennyson returned to the domestic scene to close out the year. Stopping Atif Shafiq, Craig Evans and Gavin Gwynne all highlight the power that Tennyson possesses, but the fights did little to support his claim to another world title shot. Martin Joseph Ward remains Tennyson’s biggest scalp and possibly will do so unless he can overcome prospect Josh O’Reilly.
Canadian-born, Josh O’Reilly, has fought his entire career in North America against questionable opposition. Although claiming an undefeated record, O’Reilly has only tested himself once when he stepped up against Cam O’Connell for the NABA Lightweight Title in January 2018. After securing the title with a majority decision win, O’Reilly has since fought twice more against weak opposition. His last fight in particular, against the 36-34-6 Cecilio Santos, was a circus show. Santos weighed in the same the shape as a barrel, and yet it took O’Reilly six labouring rounds to stop the man who had already been finished EIGHTEEN times. The pro’s of O’Reilly? In the pocket, O’Reilly throws some cute combinations that could certainly hurt anyone in the division. Liver shot, into an uppercut off the same arm, before landing a right hook to the body. It is a shame then that O’Reilly will likely be unwilling to land such combinations against an opponent who can throw back.
Predicted Result: Tennyson TKO Round 8
Tennyson still has a lot of technical issues that need to be tightened before he can ride his power back into another world title shot. Despite this, Tennyson is far more polished than his inexperienced Canadian opponent. Tennyon’s tenacity in the pocket and front-foot pressure will be far superior to anything that O’Reilly has faced before. It is time for a chin check.
Result: Tennyson def. O’Reilly // TKO Round 1 2:14
Rest of the Card
Super Middleweight (168)
vacant WBO International Super Middleweight Title
Zach Parker (19-0, 13KO) vs Cesar Nunez (17-2-1, 9KO)
Zach Parker proved he had bottle in his last fight, that is for sure. A gruelling eleven round war with Rohan Murdock for the WBO Inter-Continental Super Middleweight Title, Parker and Murdock stood in the phone box for much of the fight. Despite taking far too much punishment than a fighter should, Parker still displayed a gutsy offensive performance with a ram-rod jab and crunching body hooks that paid dividends during the championship rounds. The biggest red flag for Parker, beside his willingness to eat clean shots, is his inactivity. Not every fighter has to be a volume puncher, but a handful of jabs and body shots cannot win you rounds, and against a fighters with granite chins, you are going to haemorrhage points.
Spaniard, Cesar Nunez, is technically coming into Parker fight on a win. Digging deeper into Nunez’ history, however, shows Nunez’ torrid 2019. Two TKO losses and a majority decision draw, Nunez emphatically failed to exit the regional Spanish scene. Against Edgar Berlanga at the MSG, Nunez plodded forward at a right angle and served his chin on a platter for the prospect. This is classic Eddie Hearn match-making, where he scours BoxRec for an opponent with a deceptively good record but very limited skills.
Predicted Result: Parker TKO Round 6
Parker is a powerful but flawed fighter as of right now. There is little subtlety to his game, and he has rode his power into the position he finds himself. Nunez is a fighter at the end of his career, eager for final pay days, and willing to sacrifice his record. Parker should have no trouble in bullying Nunez but will take a few rounds to finish the Spaniard.
Women’s Bantamweight (118)
Shannon Courtenay (5-1, 2KO) vs Dorota Norek (6-1, 1KO)
Courtenay was finally exposed in her last fight for being the limited front-fighter that she is. While she showed excellent recovery to come back from the massive left hook that she ate, Courtenay was unable to get inside of the long jab of Ball. Courtenay is still young and has the athletic ability to improve, but it feels good for the Matchroom commentators to be silenced. Pack of bums.
Bruh, Dorota Norek has a trash record. With only one victory over an opponent with a winning record (that being 1-0-1), Norek has fought debutants and cans to accumulate her impressive record. That one loss? An eight round thumping to prospect Fatima Dudieva in Russia. The fight itself was a sloppy mess, but Norek was significantly the inferior fighter. No head movement, running in place of footwork and swinging loopy hooks, Norek is poor.
Predicted Result: Courtenay Decision
Norek is a very poor fighter but she is game. Hiding behind a high guard and not throwing any form of jab, Courtenay will be able to bully her opponent. Norek does randomly explode into the odd six punch combination that can land though, so Courtenay will have to be wary in the pocket.
Result: Courtenay def. Norek // TKO Round 7 1:35
Light Heavyweight (175)
Lerrone Richards (13-0, 3KO) vs Timo Laine (28-14, 12KO)
Lerrone Richards is a difficult fighter to guess where he will end up. Clearly technically superb, Richards has excellent positioning within the ring and uses his feet wisely to keep his monster reach effective. The counters that Richards throw are lightning quick and rarely miss the target. The issue is that Richard’s can be criticised for thinking too much. At times, Richards stands rooted as he attempts to mentally piece together the next few sequences of action. This allows his opposition to land significant shots and create debatable rounds on the scorecards. If tightened up, Richards could be a real threat at Light Heavyweight. Also, quick side note, Richard’s bumblebee shorts are so dope. They have wings as well.
Richards’ opponent, Timo Laine, has been brought in solely for a Richards’ highlight reel on his Matchroom debut. Having fought a long career, Laine has regularly made the trip outside of his native Finland to test a prospect. Fighting on the rope, Laine aims to exhaust his opponent before landing a hopeful counter shot.
Predicted Result: Richards TKO Round 6
Richards is the far superior boxer and should be able to showcase his skillset effectively on his Matchroom debut. Another Hearn match-making masterclass.
Result: Richards def. Laine // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 80-72)
Donte Dixon (4-0, 3KO) vs Angelo Dragone (5-1)
Donte Dixon is a very raw prospect at Featherweight, but God damn does it look like he carries some power. Throwing full force into his shots, Dixon does his leave chin exposed at times. Against Eduardo Valverde, Dixon was hit cleanly with a counter straight but managed to eat it well. The benefits of Dixon’s high risk offence means that when he lands, his opponent’s struggle to take it. Dixon’s got a nice jab that pushes his opponent’s face rather than ‘jab’ conventionally, and his power will surely improve as he tightens his mechanics further.
Angelo Dragone is unironically a great match-up for Dixon at this stage in his career. A fighter who overcame the journeymen, but failed to win a regional title against another prospect. Moreover, Dragone is a front-foot fighter who will bring the action to Dixon. This will be fireworks.
Predicted Result: Dixon Decision
Both men like to duke it out on the front-foot and in the pocket. Dixon certainly carries the heavier hands, but Dragone is an underrated boxer who will sneak in a lot of punishment if Dixon continues to neglect his guard.
Result: Dixon def. Dragone // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 58-56)
Light Heavyweight (175)
Lewis Edmondson (3-0) vs John Telford (11-2-1, 2KO)
Lewis Edmondson is a big, rangey Light Heavyweight who has so far only really needed to throw a 1-2 to secure his three victories. There isn’t much tape on the prospect, and what does exist, tells us very little of the skill-set of the Southampton boxer.
John Telford is a slugger who has fought across several weight classes in search of glory. Athletically sub-par, Telford is a crafty range boxer who uses his jab to start every combination.
Predicted Result: Edmondson Decision
This is truly a battle of the jabs, with the bigger, rangier Lewis Edmondson finding himself in prime position to win.
Result: Edmondson def. Telford // TKO Round 3 2:22
Matchroom: Saunders vs Murray
2020 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: Is BJS any good anymore? There is a sneaking suspicion that his prime may have already passed by without us noticing.
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