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Murray set on tilt at european title

ALL-CONQUERING Andy Murray could find himself up against his British namesake, John Murray, for the European lightweight title by the end of the year.

The Cavan man, now 18-0 after his impressive defeat of Oisin Fagan, is No4 in the European rankings, while the Englishman, unbeaten in 28 fights, is mandatory challenger for titleholder Anthony Mezaache.

If the Frenchman were to be deposed by John Murray when they meet, Ireland's Murray could then jump the queue for a shot at the new European champion. At the moment, there are a couple of other Englishmen, Kevin Mitchell and Lee McAllister, as well as the Ukraine's Andrei Kudriavtsev, blocking Andy from the main contender spot.

"The European champion will probably be fighting next month, so the title is likely to be tied up for a while, but we'd certainly be hoping to get Andy a crack at it towards the end of the year," said promoter Brian Peters.

Murray gave probably his best performance yet in outscoring and outpunching Fagan, even though the Portmarnock veteran complained the fifth-round stoppage was premature.

You would expect nothing else from such a brave battler, but Oisin was taking a systematic beating from the Irish champion, and would only have suffered further pain had referee Dave Irving not rescued him.

"While I'm waiting around for the European title chance, I'd like to defend the Irish title and also go in with a good quality international opponent," said Murray. "I certainly don't want to be hanging around."


Another Irishman eyeing a European title chance is featherweight Patrick Hyland, who recorded his 19th straight win by stopping Londoner Mickey Coveney on the National Stadium bill. Hyland's brother, Eddie, has been sparring with the European featherweight champion, Oleg Yefimovych, and Patrick will get a first-hand report on the Ukrainian's qualities when Eddie returns home.

New Irish heavyweight champion Coleman Barrett looks way short of European title standard, having to survive a nightmare second round before going on to earn a 97-92 points verdict over Colin Kenna.

The southpaw was laid on his back by an out-of-the-blue right-hand from Kenna; only a lack of precision prevented the Southampton-based Dubliner causing an upset.

In the fourth Irish title bout on the bill, Anthony Fitzgerald deservedly picked up the super-middleweight belt with a 98-94 points verdict over Belfast veteran Ciaran Healy.

Dubliner Fitzgerald's heavy thumps to the head and body echoed around the arena, but he needs to learn to put combinations together if is to go on making progress.

Promoter Peters was happy that the show, minus big names, attracted a near-full house.

He now plans to stage a super-featherweight Prizefighter tournament, with eight boxers taking part in an elimination series and all of the three-round bouts taking place on the same night.

In England, Barry Hearn's Prizefighter tournaments have proved hugely popular. Peters could expect a similar response here with the event shown live on RTé.