MARTIN Murray endured a frustrating night in Monte Carlo before finally seeing off the previously undefeated Nigerian-born German Nuhu Lawal on points.

It was a tough night for the 34-year-old super middleweight, who was on a hiding to nothing against the last minute stand-in after first Arthur Abraham and then, on Wednesday, Dimitrii Chudinov cried off.

Although the fight was a physical mismatch, the four-time world title challenger at times was dragged into a messy fight with Lawal constantly leading with the head to nullify Murray’s advantage in class and size.

Ironically the referee deducted a point from Murray in the closing minute for briefly imitating the tactic adopted by his opponent all night.

On paper there was nothing for Murray in this fight after the two bigger names had pulled out, but it was nonetheless a potential banana skin against a hungry, game fighter with a heavy right hand.

Although Murray supplied the cleaner shots, both to the body and with the one-twos to the head, he could never completely shake off Lawal, who turned it into a messy encounter with the way he constantly fell in, led with the head and clung on.

If Murray was frustrated beforehand, he was even more so as the bout progessed but remained on the whole composed and professional.

Lawal started the busier of the two as Murray used the opening round to weigh up what he was up against.

Murray stepped it up in round two, catching Lawal in the middle and bossing the rest of it.

However, although Murray’s work was the cleaner, Lawal remained busy and kept the St Helens man on his toes.

And that is how the fight developed in the following rounds until the ninth when Murray rattled the German-based middleweight who was stepping up a division.

Murray connected with a flurry of punches, but his opponent was essentially saved by the bell.

Any thoughts that Murray would go in for the kill and see it off before the end soon dissipated with the durable Nigerian having the wherewithal to deny him.

And in round 11 Lawal landed two big ones through Murray’s famed high guard defence, a left and a right, but Murray’s chin was equal to the task.

Any hope that Murray would force a stoppage went in the last round – with the ref adding insult to injury by docking him a point in the dying seconds.

In the end the point had no consequence, with two judges giving it 117-110, and the other 116-11, but the combination of factors probably contributed to it being a far from vintage performance.

Afterwards Murray said: “It wasn’t what I wanted, I was a class above.

“It was scrappy with him coming in with the head all the time and I thought the ref had an absolute shocker.

“He was tough – taking nothing away from the lad. He gave it a good go.

“But a win is a win.”