Newly-crowned WBO world middleweight champion Andy Lee will be in Monte Carlo on February 21 to oversee the WBA Super world middleweight title fight between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Martin Murray and is keen to face the winner at some point in the next twelve months.
Ireland’s Lee picked up his world championship with a stunning sixth-round knockout of Matt Korobov in December, but knows a future title unification fight could finally crown a true number one at 160lbs.
“Golovkin and Murray are nice guys and good fighters, and I hope to fight both of them some day,” he said. “I’ll be ringside in Monte Carlo watching as both a fan and a fighter. It’s a genuinely interesting fight – one I’d be interested in even if I wasn’t at their weight – and it also carries relevance to me and my career.
“I’ll be looking to see certain things in both fighters. I’ve seen Golovkin fight at least once before in the flesh, but I’ve never seen Murray fight in the flesh. It will be nice to see them up close and get a sense of what they’re like around a big fight.
“I think about a unification fight all the time. And, even though I’m now a world champion, Golovkin is still The Man in the division. He is rightly considered the number one middleweight in the world.
“Maybe this time next year we’ll be fighting for all the marbles. Though I’m sure Martin Murray will have something to say about that.”
A fan of both, Lee expects Golovkin to retain his title but is quick to shoot down any idea that Murray might be out of his depth on February 21.
“I think Murray is the best opponent Golovkin has faced,” said the southpaw. “I’d probably say Daniel Geale was the best up to this point, but Murray is a bit better than him. He’s more solid, stronger and he’s a big middleweight.
“Saying that, though, I don’t know if Martin will be able to do as much with Golovkin as even guys like (Gabriel) Rosado and (Curtis) Stevens did. From what we’ve seen of his past fights, Martin tends to be in front of you, he stands square and you don’t have to go looking for him. That might suit Golovkin.
“Stevens nullified him a bit because he took a negative approach and moved around the ring with a high guard for a few rounds. He didn’t really try to engage. He just picked his spots when he could.
“I could see Murray doing that for the first half of the fight and then hoping to come on strong at the end. Then he can use his bigger size and his strength. I think that would be Martin’s best approach; don’t try to win the first few rounds, just get through them without taking much punishment and land when you can. He just has to hope to find cracks in the second half of the fight.
“Remember, Murray has experience at this level. He’s gone twelve rounds with both (Sergio) Martinez and (Felix) Sturm. He’s definitely world-class. He also has belief. I don’t think he will be in awe of Golovkin. He won’t think he’s going to lose. Most people who face Golovkin are beaten before they’ve even stepped in the ring with him.”
Before turning pro in 2006, Lee boxed Golovkin as an amateur at the 2003 World Championships. He lost a decision and Golovkin went on to win the entire tournament. Suffice to say, Lee knew the steely-eyed Kazakh was special even back then.
“His footwork, feints and ability to cut off the ring are second to none,” he said. “He always has his opponent on edge. You’re in a constant state of panic, thinking he’s going to attack you at any moment, but he’s totally relaxed. It’s no big deal to him. He puts pressure on you with his feet all the time. And it’s mental pressure. Then, when you step to him, he’ll take a quick step away. He’s always on his toes, ready to fire.
“Murray will find he has to pick his spots wisely. You don’t get many of them and you have to be absolutely certain when they arrive. If you get it wrong, you could leave yourself exposed and end up in trouble.
“Martin knows this, though. He’s a clever, seasoned fighter. In some ways, he’s more experienced than me. He’s as ready as he’ll ever be.”