England’s Martin Murray continued his march towards a world title shot with a dramatic seventh-round technical decision win over rugged Domenico Spada of Italy in the main bout on the Golden Gloves “Title Tornado” card in Monaco on Saturday night.
The fight was called off due to an accidental head butt, leading to a premature calling of the judges’ scorecards.
Esa Lehtosaari (Finland) had it 68-63, Jurgen Langos (Germany) 67-66 and Gerald Ritter (USA) 69-67 as Murray made a successful first defence of his WBC Silver title.
With the “Barmy Army” roaring him on, Murray outworked the Italian, although not before dealing with his roughhouse tactics. Seeking a tear-up, Spada kept the action close with his head dangerously pitched forward.
Ironically Murray was docked a point in the third for a butt that opened a cut over Spada’s right eye. The doctor inspected it intermittently until the dramatic ending, foreshadowed by the inevitable clash of heads.
WBA and IBO champion Gennady Golovkin was ringside to run the rule over Murray, who, it was later announced, he next fights on February 21 in Monaco.
In a cracking undercard fight, South Africa’s Hekkie Budler overcame a rocky start against Xiong Zhao Zhong to successfully defend his WBA and IBO minimumweight titles over 12 rounds.
A booming left hook from the Chinese sent Budler to the canvas in the second round for the first time in his career, but he then took evasive action to see out the round. Better still, he got his own back in the third when a straight right sent the former WBC champion sprawling for an eight-count.
That signalled the turning point as Budler’s greater workrate overcame Zhong’s dwindling power. With both fighters cut through the middle rounds, they never let up in an engaging battle.
Zhong was a perpetual danger with his powerful left hand, but Budler’s grit and experience pulled him though.