MARTIN Murray said “I’m back” during heated post-fight scenes after earning the judges’ majority decision on his middleweight division return against Gabriel Rosado at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old got the nod after a tough 12 rounds with the American in a successful defence of his WBA Inter-Continental middleweight title.

Both fighters poured out their frustration towards a separate judge and the crowd looked set to be treated to a 13th round as they pushed and shoved after Rosado started hurling verbal abuse towards officials.

There had been tension throughout the fight, Murray twice being spoken to by referee Howard Foster for catching his opponent below the belt while the St Helens man was twice incensed by Rosado’s late punches after the bell had signalled the end of rounds.

Murray deserved the decision, but Polish judge Leszek Jankowiak appeared to be way off the mark with his 119-109 card compared to fellow countryman Grzegorz Molenda’s 116-112 and the 114-114 from England’s Terry O’Connor.

Rosado interrupted Murray’s post-fight interview in the ring and said: “I don’t want hard feelings.”

Murray responded: “I’ve got respect for you but I don’t want you mouthing off after the fight. You’ve got to accept it.

Rosado said: “119-109? Do you all agree with that? That’s crazy. I was hurting you in the last rounds, you were about to go in the last two rounds.

“You were holding on. You hit me low in my cup four times because you wanted a break!”

Murray had already told the crowd and live audience on Sky Sports: “I said all along I was a level above him. I said I was an all-round better fighter and I proved that tonight.

“Terry O’Connor had 114-114. I don’t know what fight he was watching, I thought I won it clearly.

“I gave him (Rosado) three or four rounds max. I’ve put up with him blabbing his mouth all week giving it ‘this big American guy over here’.

“He got completely schooled there tonight and he thinks standing here and shouting his mouth off is going to make them turn the decision. He got schooled it’s as simple as that.”

Murray, a four-times world title challenger, was asked about his future as a result of this contest and said: “This was a crossroads fight. No disrespect to Gabe Rosardo, he proved he’s a tough fighter.

“He was pushing me towards the end because he knew he was chasing the fight. But I wasn’t engaging, I was a level above him and a step ahead of him. That’s how I said the fight would unfold but I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

“What I did say was, as all the top guys have beaten him then my hopes were gone if I had any genuine hopes of winning a world title if I’d got beaten by him.

“I proved I was a level above him tonight and I’m back in the middleweight division.”

Murray, taking his record to 35 wins from 40 professional fights, boxed his way to victory rather than getting embroiled ‘in a war’ that had been billed.

After a cautious first round by both fighters Murray connected with an early left and had success with the same hand in a couple of rallies in the second.

The Fingerpost fighter landed on the body a few times in the third round and on the bell gave Rosado a long stare.

Things started to warm-up in the fourth as Rosado got Murray going backwards and rattled his jaw with a hefty upper-cut.

Although Murray set Rosado’s chops stinging with a swinging left the Philadelphian did all the pressing and sneaked one punch in after the bell which angered Murray into a response.

Murray’s defence on the ropes served him well for a spell in the fifth as Rosado worked on punishing the body and then shifting attention to the head.

Fourteen seconds into the sixth Murray received a talking to from referee Howard Foster after a low blow that left the American doubled over.

A succession of rights that were landed a moment before and on the bell capped a stronger seventh round from Murray, who seemed to step it up a gear in the eighth, dishing out some strong combinations and landing precise punches on the counter attack.

It got a bit ugly again at the end of the ninth when Murray once more looked to have taken a blow after the bell and responded with a punch of his own and a tongue-wag.

Murray was looking the stronger man in the 10th before he was spoken to by Foster for another low blow.

Then both fighters made their mark with close-in work that more resembled the war that had been billed.

Murray started the 11th by catching his man with a powerful right but the round belonged to Rosado, who cranked up the pressure on the front foot and several flurries of blows left Murray hanging on.

Rosado went full-out for the win in the final round, looking for the one big punch to connect for a knockout but Murray was smart and his defences copped the worst of it – as they had done throughout.