5 June 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Andy Murray unwillingly lived up to his Quiet Man ring moniker in and out of the ring in Cardiff last Saturday night, as he was out foxed by Gavin Rees in their European lightweight title fight.
The home fighter’s tactics ensured the Cavan man wasnt busy or active enough for the majority of the clash and subsequently sat hushed and disappointed in his dressing room after his first career defeat. There were certainly no boisterous Irish celebrations as the former EU champion disappointingly fell at the final Continental hurdle in the Motor Point Arena. The John Breen trained fighter did threaten a Lazarus style comeback when the Welsh puncher tired in the latter stages, however the intelligent yet shot Newbridge fighter literally held on for dear life.
By round nine former world champion was dead on his feet, but despite a late Murray flurry ensured his EBU title dreams remained alive. The 31 year old employed all his ring craft to just about make it to the final bell intact. And as Rees deservedly buckled the prestigious blue belt around his waist Murray cut a disconsolate figure in a post fight dressing room that resembled a morgue.
The 28 year old, who also missed the opportunity to equal the longest unbeaten streak in Irish boxing history, pointed to the impressive Welsh fighter’s ring cunning as the core difference between the pair.
I am very disappointed. He was there for the taking, but he was clever. He stole a few close rounds and that was the decisive thing in the end, Murray told Mirror sport after the fight, before admitting to being surprised by Rees counter punch tactics.
He stood off and waited to catch me coming in. He was very clever but you have to be able to employ different tactics for different fighters.
Up and until round eight Rees was in control. He looked comfortable and content in the ring and despite being the shorter fighter had the more effective jab. However by the end of the seventh Irish amateur legend Paul Griffin was buzzing round ring side informing everyone the home fighter was, just as John Breen had predicted, struggling for fitness. European challenger Murray, who brought a very vocal support, seemed to agree with the former European gold medallist and he upped the tempo in a bid to take his opponent out.
But Rees has been around the block and literally spoilt the former Irish amateur standouts title dreams.
Even when he was tired he was clever. He held and spoilt a lot. He got docked a point for it, but it worked for him. I couldnt take full advantage of the situation. He held a lot and even caught me with hooks on the way out, Murray added seconds after Rees came in to the dressing room and admitted he was all but gone.
The talented Ulster man, who lost by a unanimous 115-112, 115-112 and 116-112 decision, will surely come again but wasnt willing to look past getting disrobed after Saturday nights reverse.
It is to early to be looking ahead. I am just out of the ring. What is next for me? Getting my boots off.