Boxing:Murray caps classic show

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Murray collected the impressive Minerva Gold Cup for the 8-2 team victory at the Hotel L’Horizon, along with a winner’s medal, an award for bout of the night – and the honour of top boxer handed out by guest of honour Michael Sprott, Audley Harrison’s latest nemesis and the current European Union heavyweight champion.

It was, in fact, the early hours of Sunday morning when the lightweight took to the ring against talented Scot Richard Barclay.

There was also every chance of the bout being an anti-climax; the trophy was long since won by some excellent performances from Murray’s Leonis clubmates and the previous bout, middleweight Craig Culkin’s outstanding majority points decision win over the strong and game Pat McGlinchy, looked a shoe-in for the best bout of the night award.

But, as with all good thrillers – and this Mark Dunlop production certainly was in that category – the best had been left for last.

Barclay and Murray were supremely well matched, as were all the previous nine encounters, with four majority decisions and no stoppages recorded.

Both boxers displayed outstanding movement of feet, gloves and body – and when an opening had been worked, they attacked with lightning speed.

Barclay may even have had slightly the better of the early exchanges, which included a stinging right in the second of the four rounds.

But Murray’s class is allied to steely determination and he, too, landed good combinations and a punishing right in the third.

Both men had certainly earned the capacity crowd’s standing ovation at the end of the evening with Murray having drawn deep from home support encouragement to edge a unanimous decision.

A thrilling end to a night of many fine contests, though 8-2 was a cruel scoreline for the Scots to take home as they more than played their part from the moment both teams were piped into the ring.

The home boxers won the first three bouts of the night.

Welterweight Decio Ferreira finished the stronger against Billy Patterson and drew blood in the third and final round to gain a unanimous points decision in a contest that went to and fro.

The highly-rated Ricky Singh, wearing the flag of India on his shorts, thought himself unlucky to lose a majority decision to Jersey’s Daniel Murphy, but the latter’s aggression and close work surely deserved victory.

He certainly landed the harder punches, though that, for sure, is not always enough for the decision.

The taller welterweight Singh, with what should have been a telling reach advantage, had little answer to the stooping attacks which frequently had him taking strong rights from Murphy.

Scott Harben waged a close-range war against fellow welterweight Steven Banks and emerged a victorious warrior with a unanimous decision, Banks having been deducted a point, by referee Brian Follain, for desperately holding on in the third.

The tide was halted in the fourth bout, with the supremely fit and elusive Sammy Hill winning a unanimous decision over Jersey light welterweight Boyd Munro who left it too late in producing his best moments in the third and final round.

The Scots pulled the score back to 3-2 with victory in the following welterweight clash, though it was easily the least satisfying encounter of the evening.

Jersey’s Reuben Legge never got the measure of the frenzied attacks of James McConnichie who, although seeming to do little other than wrestle Legge, won a majority decision – despite being deducted a point for holding.

The following five bouts were of an altogether higher class, with the boxers of both teams serving up excellent entertainment.

Welterweight Tommy Noel’s growing fan club were kept happy when his controlled aggression and a stronger finish won a majority decision against the compact and capable Paul Allison.

Danny Maka’s unanimous win over middleweight James McComsiky was an excellent contest, with both men putting together good combinations over the four rounds.

Maka will be pleased to emerge the winner from a quality encounter.

Danny Kennedy will probably feel much the same after his win over James Nolan, the well-matched pair both putting in strong performances in this four-round welterweight contest.

Kennedy’s victory secured overall victory for Jersey.

Culkin, whose sporting CV includes managing St Paul’s Football Club, delivered a master class of concentration and discipline to win a majority decision from the similarly focussed and talented middleweight McGlinchy.

A great – and sporting – contest that did both men great credit and one which would have been the abiding memory of the night …

had it not been for the fireworks then provided by Murray and Barclay.

l Official Brian Follain was honoured for 50 years’ service to boxing, in many capacities, by club president Mark Dunlop and Leonis coach Dave Thompson.

Official in charge: Kevin Baudain.

Medical officer Dr G Hamilton.

MC: Michael Stephenson.

Judges: R Langors, G Le Masurier, T Burt and D Hannaford.

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