British middleweight Martin Murray has withdrawn from a June 16 fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. due to legal issues preventing him from obtaining a visa to enter the United States. The issues are connected to Murray’s past criminal behavior, which included street fighting and robbery, crimes that resulted in four separate stints in prison.
“I’d signed the contract and everything was agreed, so to be told I cannot box Chavez Jr. because of my past is gut-wrenching,” Murray said. “As a human being, I couldn’t have done any more to turn my life around over the last seven years. I have a fantastic wife, Gemma. We have two wonderful children, Archie and Amelia. They are my life and everything I do is for them.”
Murray, 29, popped on the international radar last December, when he battled WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm to a draw. Murray’s manager Neil Marsh and promoter Ricky Hatton said in a statement that they would work to resolve the visa issues quickly. In the meantime, they will look to make a fight for Murray (23-0-1) in the U.K., where he could defend his minor domestic titles.
“I am a qualified youth worker and spend lots of time working with kids making an effort to help keep them out of trouble,” Murray said. “I am pleading with the youth of today not to make the same mistakes I did when I was young. Even if you change your life around it can still come back to bite you.”
Meanwhile, Chavez Jr. will look to fill Murray’s slot. Industry sources say unbeaten junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan and middleweight Andy Lee are the leading candidates.
– Chris Mannix