02 December 2009 – By Steve Wellings
Dublin super-middleweight Anthony Fitzgerald has been left searching for a short-notice replacement after original opponent Lee Murtagh withdrew from their Irish title fight on Saturday night, citing a knee injury.
Leeds southpaw Murtagh, now fighting with an Irish license, is suffering from tendonitis and with limited options – neither Jonjo Finnegan or Michael Monaghan are in fighting condition, while Robbie Long felt he wouldn’t do himself justice at a week’s notice – Anthony may have to accommodate an international opponent.
“After training for so long it’s hard to readjust,” admitted a deflated Fitzgerald. “They rang me on Saturday and said that Murtagh had suffered a knee injury. I hope that an alternative opponent can be found as the training has been fantastic and I’ve worked really hard on strength and conditioning for the fight. The promoter has said I’ll get a slot on the bill even if they can’t find a replacement for the Irish title.
“I was thrilled to beat Robbie Long in the rematch recently and I had waited nine months for that return fight. I’d been getting some hard sparring for this fight and preparing for a southpaw style.”
Murtagh, meanwhile, was equally as disappointed when explaining the extent of his injury: “Its been troubling me for a while but I just gone on with it but after three days hard training (double sessions) I couldn’t bend the leg or run and by last Tuesday I was in agony.
“Wednesday night it swelled and the physio took a look; the left knee has had prominent veins for years. The veins had swelled and I had tendonitis.
“It was devastating to withdraw but with the pain what could I do? I did no roadwork and cancelled sparring, before re-consulting with the physio again and I had a groin strain as well by that point. It was a hard decision but the physio took it for me and told me to get off my feet and rest. I have tablets to stop the inflammation.”
Murtagh, who recorded a routine points win over Marcen Gierke in Limerick in his last fight, admitted feeling okay and is buoyed by the physios assurances that the injury is not career threatening.
“I’m optimistic about full recovery. The medical advice Ive received tells me that all boxers should stretch well or do yoga to keep flexible; years of hard training can take its toll on the body. I’m hoping I can get back up to speed and fight again, or at least train in my own gym which I run during the week.
“I assured (Fitzgeralds manager) Don O’Leary it was a genuine injury and he said he never doubted that fact. I hope the title fight doesn’t just get forgotten about – I still want it.”
Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is still promising a performance for his fans, whoever ends up in the opposition corner: “The fans want to see a good fight and I’m a ticket seller so I’m not going to let anyone down.”