By Vincent Dunne
The middleweight division is being talked about again recently with our own Andy Lee the current WBO belt-holder. A couple of years ago boxing fans were salivating at the future fights that looked to play out on the European Scene . We had Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker and Andy Lee. They each gave the usual bluster about how they would all win World Titles and fight each other.
In fairness Londoner Barker did manage to buckle the IBF Middleweight title around his waste, but lost in his first defence and promptly retired. Martin Murray has gone up in weight so that leaves us with the two Irish 160lbs punchers.
It drives this writer bananas that three of the aforementioned managed to fight Sergio Martinez yet never agreed terms with each other. So the only way to sort it out is a fantasy tournament!
Just to be fair we will we will imagine this tournament took place around 3 years ago- a time when all fighters were in their prime.
To spice it up we’ll have an all Irish and all English Semi-finals. So it’ll be Macklin vs Lee and Barker vs Murray in two good old slobberknockers!!!
Semi final 1: Macklin vs Lee:
In truth I never wanted these two to meet. I had hoped they would fight the English middleweights before meeting to unify the division. Macklin versus Lee would be a war with both men having real chances of coming out on top. Three time World title challenger would try to use intelligent pressure to get past now WBO title holder Lee’s physical advantages, putting educated pressure on the Limerick man akin to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Lee on the other hand would start by trying to use his assets and keep it long, but as usual get drawn into a war. The Macklin who was robbed in Germany against Sturm could give Lee fits. I spoke to Jimmy Magee before the Chavez fight and he was worried that Chavez would come in huge on the night and overwhelm Andy and is exactly what happened.
Macklin would not have these physical advantages, but he would try to outwork Lee who has a tendency to start slow. However I just feel Lee would be behind on points and uncork a bomb of a left hand and win TKO 9.
Semi Final 2: Barker vs Murray:
Again the skilled boxer vs teak tough fighter. Barker’s boxing skills are superior to any version of Murray, but Murray’s result against Martinez always resonates when thinking about this fantasy match up. A suspect judging decision cost Murray( I thought he won the fight and had what looked a legitimate knockdown not counted) and whereas Barker was taken out comprehensively by the Argentine.
Now a result against common opposition isn’t always the best guide but it usually has a big influence on your opinion. I don’t think Barker has enough firepower (16 KO from 26 wins wasn’t too bad but some of the opposition has to be called into question) to keep the marauding Murray off him. In the Sturm fight Murray gave a great display of patience and counter punching at the right time so I fancy Murray to win by points or late KO
So we have Lee and Murray in the final. Both of them have shown that fighting away from home is no problem so I don’t see much of an advantage to either if they got the fight in their own backyard.
In going through all of the scenarios in my head I am trying to figure out how Lee wins this fight. Murray is teak tough and as later shown against GGG, can certainly take a punch. Lee could keep him on the end of his jab and try to box his way to a point victory but I just don’t see him doing that.
Lee just loves a firefight and damn the consequences!! I see Murray building a lead, fending off the onslaught and winning a close 115 113 points decision but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Lee pulled it off at the death! Then the two losers of the semis could have faced off and the winner of that faced Murray but they forgot to ask for my advice!!!! The beauty of fantasy ups is it’s just opinions. So who you got?