Lee Murtagh – Malta and Pryzm

I’ll start in Malta, where Sophie and Graham Mattison made their ‘European debuts’ on the ‘Strictly Boxing’ Show’ which was televised in Malta and took place at the Monte Kristo Estates which looked like a bullring.

leemurtagh1Sophie fought a four rounder against Mandy ‘Golden Girl’ Cortis who as the Maltese National Women’s Champion, is considered boxing’s first lady on the island. The promised title fight didn’t materialise (boxing politics) which was disappointing, however as always, Malta proved to be a good experience. Mandy Cortis fights southpaw and it was important to get Sophie’s training right against such a dangerous and experienced opponent. After the first round, I almost sat down and congratulated myself on a good, well planned training regime. Sophie fought the plan to perfection and in my opinion easily took the round. I think she lost concentration in the second and the third was difficult to judge as it ended up a bit of a messy brawl. I fired her up for the final round and I thought she shaded it but the decision went against her, neither of us are complaining, Mandy has agreed to come to Leeds for a rematch which will be for the Women’s EBF International Bantamweight title on March 29th.

Former world power lifting champion Graham Mattison has been a revelation since he swapped the weights for a pair of boxing gloves.   Even though he competed all over the world in competitions, I was a little worried for him before the fight as the whole razzmatazz turned him into a nervous wreck.  leemurtagh2

Even the weigh in was on Maltese TV. He was up against Mike Carter, again an experienced opponent who I understand is ex-special forces. Now I know  he wasn’t going to sneak up behind Graham and slit his throat Rambo style but still, I must admit I was a little wary. I didn’t have to be, as soon as the bell went, the nerves disappeared and Graham took the fight to him and won by a unanimous decision, it was only afterwards I realised what a massive deal this was for him.

Sunday March 29 and British Summertime officially begins. More importantly, from one p.m in the afternoon the Bethlehem Roadshow makes a return to Pryzm Night Club in Leeds city centre for my next show. As well as Sophie’s title fight, it will also see Sam Smith’s professional debut in a six round non title fight sanctioned by the Maltese Boxing Commission. This is something Sam has strived hard towards and I must admit to being really proud of her and what she has achieved. She’s won just about everything at semi-pro level and I know she’ll meet the different challenges professional boxing offers head on.

For the third time we will have professional, semi-pro and white collar boxing on the same show. I’ve noticed people are really beginning to notice the difference between the three different levels and also appreciate the variation it brings to the show. It’s great to have them all on the same bill and align Leeds and England with how it’s done in the rest of Europe. As well as Sam and Sophie, Jason Stevenson from Seacroft who also manages The Gate football team has his second fight and the usual suspects of Alex Ferguson and Liam Hayes are also on the card. Tickets are already selling well for this, so my advice is to try and buy them in advance as I’m sure it will be sold out quickly.

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