ST HELENS middleweight Martin Murray received a ringing endorsement from one of the legends of the fight game on Saturday night after demolishing Jorge Navarro to take the WBA Interim belt.

Legendary ‘Hands of Stone’ hard man Roberto Duran made an unexpected appearance in Murray’s dressing room after the fight to congratulate him on his performance.

Murray’s confidence was already sky-high after seeing off his previously unbeaten opponent Navarro with a clinical and destructive display.

Saturday’s victory, at a jam-packed Manchester Arena, sets the 30-year-old from Fingerpost up for a springtime showdown against WBC champion Sergio Martinez in Argentina.

Although the contracts have yet to be signed on that deal, Murray is confident of being given a crack on April 27, with his emphatic win at the weekend making sure that that door remains wide open to him.

Murray, who now takes his unbeaten record in the paid ranks to 26, said: “Roberto Duran came in afterwards when I was talking to the press and the reporters were as shocked as I was.

“It was pretty surreal, but it was a great feeling to have such an absolute legend speaking to me like that.

“He said ‘well done, good performance, it’s all there for you now. You’re a good fighter and I wanted to come and speak to you in person.’ “When you get words like that from someone like Roberto Duran, who is an absolute legend, it inspires me and gives me a little bit more motivation to keep training and working hard and eventually getting there. It is a great feeling.”

Duran’s comments reinforce the view that Murray has now climbed on to the world stage, but he is taking nothing for granted.

“I am there now, fighting at world level but it is where we belong,” he said: “Me and my team have put a lot of hard work in, this is where it gets even harder because the fights are harder.

“It is great that my name is being mentioned with the likes of Martinez – but now it is about working harder now and eventually becoming World champion and hope I can do it.”

A date has been set, and now that Murray has got his fight with Navarro out of the way, his manager Neil Marsh has been more forthcoming with him about the details.

Murray added: “Everything is more or less agreed. The terms and conditions of the contract, the purse and the different dates – it is all sorted but it is about getting the contracts over and getting it signed.

“I reckon they will have been waiting to see how I got on against Navarro. But that is just like the Chavez fight when everything was agreed and then it fell through, so although this one looks likely I am not taking it for granted until it is all signed.”

Although his record of 25 wins and one draw, that against former champion Felix Sturm, he knows Martinez will be a different class altogether.

“My confidence will be sky high after Navarro, but let’s get something straight -Martinez is a different kettle of fish and in a league of his own.

“But I know I can beat him and have the style to do that.

“I know also the better the opponent the more I rise to the occasion. If ever there is a fight like that it is the Martinez one – and doing it in Argentina will make it even more of an uphill battle, but we know we can beat him.

“We have a great team, Oliver Harrison my trainer is world class and a master technician and everyone around me is positive at the minute.

“It will be the fight of my life but i will be confident.”