ST Helens middleweight Martin Murray was this week giving no comment to speculation linking him with a springtime world title shot against Sergio Martinez.
The tough Argentinian, arguably as the best pound-for- pound fighter in the world, has a slot pencilled in for the defence of his WBC crown on April 27 – and Murray has been touted as a possible opponent.
But the unbeaten Murray is not getting distracted by that talk, instead he is giving the opponent he faces a week on Saturday his undivided focus, attention and respect.
And he needs to. The 30-year-old from Fingerpost faces a dangerous contest against the unbeaten Venezuelan Jorge Navarro for the vacant Interim WBA middleweight crown.
The fight, at the Manchester Arena, is the main support bout to Ricky Hatton’s comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko but Murray is not letting that hullabaloo get to him either.
He knows the bout against something of an unknown commodity with a great knockout ratio is one he has to be on his mettle for.
Murray said: “I have not seen any footage of him yet. My manager and trainer have seen the video they have sent over of him, but it was a first round knock out, so we have not got much from that.
“Looking at his record he can obviously punch, he is young at 27 and is undefeated so is going to be ambitious. This is a massive chance for him, which makes him very dangerous.”
Having relinquished his Commonwealth and British belts, Murray can replace those with a pretty useful strap by beating Navarro, one which puts him in a better position of getting a World title crack.
“One of the good things in fighting for the interim belt is that it has to be against someone ranked in the top ten in the world with that governing body.
“The belt holder would be between the top ranked contender and the world champion.
“It puts me in a stronger position to get bigger fights,” he said.
Having had only one fight – an uninspiring one against Karim Achour in June – since drawing with then World champion Felix Sturm last December, Murray is champing at the bit for this one.
Although he admits he has probably been training too long for this, preparations have gone well.
“Navarro is going to be game and has more to gain than me and that makes him more dangerous. But because I expect a harder fight that makes me better prepared and we have covered everything in training so I am looking forward to getting in there and back to work.
“I have been working towards this fight a long time, maybe longer than I should have done. My training camp has gone well – after my last spar, it is just a case of getting my weight down for a week on Friday when I weigh in,” he said.
The circus surrounding the comeback of his promoter, former World champion Ricky Hatton, has also been put to the back of his mind, although he can feel the excitement building.
“It is a massive show – it sold out Manchester Arena in two days.
“It is going to be packed in there so it is definitely the biggest audience I have fought in front of but I have not thought once of Ricky’s fight.
“I have got my job to do next Saturday and that is all I am focusing on. Don’t get me wrong I want Ricky to win and put in a good show, but I have my job to do and that is it.
“I want to go out there and impress and I want to make a statement. I want to finish this year with a good win because it has been quite frustrating – one fight in June with an opponent that didn’t do it for me,” Murray said.
Murray was delighted with the fans’ response at Langtree Park on Saturday for his open session.
“The support I get from St Helens is brilliant and the Saints were good too.
“They were all for it because they issued the tickets and all 300 went in a couple of days.
“The turnout was brilliant. The good thing was there people there who had never seen a boxing match before so it is opening a bigger audience for me too. It went really well,” he said.