WHEN MERSEYSIDER MARTIN MURRAY faces arguably the world's most brutal boxer tonight, Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan, he will be relieved that the contest has been booked for Monte Carlo rather than Madison Square Garden.

Martin Murray

For had it been scheduled for New York - or anywhere else in America - 32-year-old Murray would almost certainly have been denied entry to the United States.

This is because he has a criminal record. Years ago Murray served jail time for assault and robbery. He has since become a model professional and completely turned his life around. But his past misdemeanours count against him when applying for a USA Visa.

A tightening of the laws by the US immigration authorities is clearly a worry to the few in boxing who have fallen foul of ours. For instance, astonishing as it may seem, Britain's personable Olympic champion Anthony Joshua, now progressing towards a world heavyweight title shot, may have problems if that fight was to take place in America because of a minor drugs conviction (for possession) in his youth.

Anthony Joshua

As things stand Joshua would be denied a visa.

America is not the only nation taking a similarly tough stance over anyone who has been before the courts. Floyd Mayweather Jr, briefly jailed for domestic violence, recently pulled out of a proposed promotional tour to Australia because of 'visa problems.' It is believed a similar situation arose here last year when he did not turn up for a scheduled visit.

The Home Office certainly prohibited convicted rapist Mike Tyson from coming here last year - despite allowing him to enter the UK several times after his jail sentences, the last of which was in 1992. On two occasions he came to fight for me, against Julius Francis and Lou Savarese.

Could it be that this latest crack-down is in response to the USA barring a number of prominent personalities; including TV chef Nigella Lawson? She had admitted to cocaine use in the past during a high-profile court case last autumn, but was not allowed to board a flight to Los Angeles following a 'tip off'' to US Homeland Security and Border Control.

Another boxer who has had to pay for transgressing the law is Welshman Fred Evans, the 2012 Olympic Welterweight silver-medallist, who was refused accreditation for Glasgow's Commonwealth Games after being fined for assault.

Most sports authorities take a dim view of anti-social behaviour, including boxing's Board of Control. The former European heavyweight champion Dereck Chisora has had his licence suspended again while doing a spot of community service, after an unseemly spot of road rage when blocked in at a car park.

Yet while boxing may have a fistful of bad lads, most who have seen the error their ways, these days footballers and rugby players are far more likely to be the sportsmen behaving badly. By and large most boxers are pussycats when the gloves come off. Because getting involved in brawls outside the ropes can cost some their careers.

Any boxer who actually uses his fists when not employed to do so faces a very lengthy ban and hefty fine, as well as being denied those lucrative dates in the US and elsewhere.

Fair enough. But my personal view is that when those involved have shown lessons have been learned they should be allowed to put it behind them and get on with their jobs.

When fighters have been back on the straight and narrow for some time surely the only 'form' that matters is not a criminal record, but that acquired in legitimate combat.

However the message is clear. Never mind those broken noses in the ring - just make sure you keep them clean out of it.

Murray certainly has his for some time now and I salute his fortitude in challenging the rampaging Kazakh Golovkin, a wrecking ball of a puncher ball who has blitzed his last 18 opponents, for the WBA 'Super' World Middleweight title.

Martin Murray

If heart alone could win fights gutsy Murray, making his third world title bid in alien territory, would be worth a gamble in Monte Carlo but I fear he has the most unenviable task of any boxer around at the moment.

I wish him luck.


It is disappointing that Miami-based Cuban Richar Abril has had to pull out of his WBA World Lightweight title defence against Derry Mathews in Liverpool on 6 March. He has presented one of the most bizarre medical reasons I've heard in boxing - dengue fever.

As this is a mosquito-borne tropical disease, perhaps Abril has been doing too much sunbathing around the Florida Everglades, where 'mozzies' proliferate. However we are assured he will be fit for the rescheduled date of Saturday 18 April. Fingers crossed.

Let's hope the bugs stop biting.


I was impressed with still-unbeaten British Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan's performance last weekend; lifting the WBO European title in Wolverhampton when frustrated Irish holder Stephen Ormond was disqualified in the tenth for persistent butting.

Terry Flanagan

Ormond may have lost his head - but Flanagan astutely kept his. The 25-year-old Mancunian (26-0) is a stylishly cool customer who has been somewhat under the radar in what is arguably boxing's toughest division.

With the WBO World title vacant because reigning champion Terence Crawford is stepping up to light-welter, Flanagan's deserved victory sets him up nicely for a title bout with either Juan Diaz or Takahiro Ao this summer - a contest I shall do my utmost to bring to Manchester.


The super-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jnr. and Manny Pacquiao is signed for May 2nd. This is the big Mexican holiday Cinco De Mayo, and the PPV is expected to be set at $90 to make it the highest grossing PPV ever!

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