Monday, October 5, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap: Murray Stops Thaxton

Dave Oakes recaps Saturday's British lightweight title fight between John Murray and Jonathan Thaxton.

Photos © Justin McKie

In a battle of former British champions, John Murray came out on top on Saturday night, stopping Jon Thaxton in the fourth round to reclaim the British lightweight title.

Murray lost the title on the scales last time out and was determined to put things right this time around. Thaxton was also fired up, knowing that victory would secure him permanent possession of the Lonsdale belt, whilst defeat would surely bring an end to his long career.

It was Thaxton who started the better, pot shotting and moving before Murray had a chance to counter. Murray seemed to be taking his time whilst keeping his hands held high and his chin tucked down. His defence has been viewed as one of his weaknesses but his concentration levels were high right from the first bell against Thaxton, who’s a noted puncher early on in fights.

Murray found his rhythm in the second round, he landed an overhand right early in the round that stiffened Thaxton’s legs. Murray normally goes all out for the knockout against a hurt opponent but he seemed intent on not taking any risks in this fight and stuck to boxing behind a high guard and using his speed to counter Thaxton.

Murray dominated the round, landing the overhand right repeatedly and using his speed advantage to full effect. He caught Thaxton with a hard left hook on the bell that seemed to hurt Thaxton again.

Thaxton tried to re-establish control in the third but was being beaten to the punch and was feeling every blow that Murray landed. It was yet another overhand right that had Thaxton hurt midway through the round, this time Murray followed it up with a hard left uppercut and a left hook to the body.

It was increasingly looking like Thaxton was having one fight too many and his usual sturdy punch resistance was starting to let him down. He was hurt yet again towards the end of the round when Murray detonated another heavy left hook onto Thaxton’s chin.

The end came in the fourth when a Murray right hand had Thaxton staggering backwards towards the ropes, the referee jumped in after Murray followed up with a couple of hooks but I felt that the stoppage was a touch premature.

Thaxton wasn’t that badly hurt, and whilst he was more than likely going to get stopped in the next couple of rounds, I felt he deserved a chance to turn things around. He’s been a pro for over fifteen years and has been in the mix at championship level for most of his career, I feel a fighter like that should be given a bit more of a chance to prove he’s okay to continue. That said, I can’t criticise the referee for erring on the side of caution, I’d rather see a fight being stopped a touch early than it being stopped too late.

Murray takes his unbeaten record to 28 fights (16 KO’s) and is keen on fights against Anthony Mezaache and Michael Katsidis. A fight against Katsidis has the makings of a ‘fight of the year’ type fight but I’m unsure as to how easy that fight would be to make.

The defeat must surely mean the end of the road for Thaxton. He’s had many highs and lows in an eventful career that has seen him claim both British and European titles. He always gave his best and can leave boxing with his head held high.

e-mail Dave Oakes