I really like Martin Murray, and while he's a tough fighter and a credible opponent, he is on paper grossly outclassed by Sergio Martinez, who has beaten fighters on this level with relative ease in recent years. The one fight where Murray may draw some inspiration is Martinez's win over Matthew Macklin. Sure, Sergio got bold and stopped Macklin late, but Macklin had some legitimate success in that fight along the way. It wasn't like Darren Barker, who mostly played some decent defense but didn't return a lot -- Macklin actually accomplished a few things offensively.
There are two things going against Murray compared to Macklin: He's not as physically strong, I don't think, though he is still the bigger man against Sergio, and Macklin is absolutely a better puncher. Murray "belongs" here against Sergio as much as anyone not named Gennady Golovkin does right now, and really, with all due respect to Daniel Geale, only Golovkin and maybe Peter Quillin strike me as guys who could potentially beat Martinez any time soon. There's nothing wrong with Murray as the opponent here, but he's not quite in Martinez's league. Martinez TKO-9.
Like Julio Diaz this weekend, much of the reason why Martin Murray's got this fight - and his current standing is what it is - is not really because of who he's beaten, but who he's recently drawn with. While Murray's draw in Mannheim with a faded Felix Sturm - although the true extent of the fading was only made clear a year or so later - was, for obvious reasons, creditable, I'm of the opinion that it should be looked at again in light of Sturm's failings since. Perhaps more to the point, it was a fight I actually scored for Sturm - for me, a rare example of a home fighter being unlucky to not emerge with a debatable decision.
Take Sturm's name away from Murray's record, though, and the gulf in class when compared to Martinez's is so big it's scary. There are a few doubts about Martinez here, though. At 38, taking time out for surgery is far from ideal and, if it hasn't robbed him of half a step in speed, it could play on his mind more than anything's likely to have done over his recent domination of the division. Those factors, though, are likely nullified by the fact that this fight's in Buenos Aires, with 40,000+ Argentinians there in support, and all the obvious advantages that brings.
Physically, Murray should be able to match up, given that he's the bigger man of the two. The notion that he'll outbox Martinez over twelve, though, seems ludicrous to me, and I have to question whether he'll be able to find the faster, trickier man - and a southpaw at that - often enough to do any real damage. Murray is, I think, an interesting match for any of the British and Irish contingent at 160, but this is well beyond him. It's doubtful Martinez starts out too fast given his injury lay-off, but let's say that he does. Martinez KO4
I think there could be a greater chance of an upset here than most think, but I can't pull the trigger and actually predict it to occur. Martinez has just too much of everything, most notably on offense. He will use his legs to circle Murray constantly, never allowing his opponent to plant and throw his best artillery. Murray may win a few rounds from pressure and activity, but it will take more than a few rounds to win, especially in Argentina. It's certainly not out of the question that Martinez could have lost a step since his win over Chavez from age and surgery on his knee. It's also possible he could press a bit more than usual with his home fans cheering in his ear. However, even if it isn't Sergio at 100%, I expect him to have too much for Murray. He's just too fast with his feet and too accurate with his hands. Martinez by decision.
Unless Martinez's age plays a factor and he ‘goes' overnight, it's hard to envisage Murray causing an upset. Don't get me wrong, Murray is a good fighter, a solid pro who will have left no stone unturned in his preparation, it's just that Martinez is on a different level than that of all the other fighters at 160lbs.
Martinez will be fired-up, it's the first time in over ten years that he's boxed in Argentina and a huge crowd will be roaring him on. I don't think Murray will be fazed by the crowd or the predictable Falklands guff that has been used to hype the fight (not by either combatant, it must be said).
I can see Murray covering up early, with his tight defence being hard to penetrate. He may well lose a lot of the early rounds through his safety-first approach and will then face an uphill battle to turn the fight around late. Martinez's speed, skills and experience give him a big edge in the bout, the only question for me is whether or not he can stop Murray. Murray's chin looks rock solid and he's hard to catch clean, with that in mind, I think he'll last the distance. Martinez via UD.