Lee murtagh’s Boxing Diary – Onwards and Upwards 2017


Upwards & Onwards 2017

My first column of 2017, where does the time go? I want to look back over the last year and tell you about what we have planned for 2017 and although he’s featured heavily in the latter part of 2016 I’d like to start with ‘My Sugar Ray,’ Liam Hayes.

I said from the first day Liam walked through my door he was something special. Naturally talented, eager to learn and try different things. I’ll never forget the training session in the early days when he astounded everyone with an array of Cuban style body shots. Liam somehow lost his way which isn’t unusual for a young boxer, it’s a tough discipline is boxing with a lot of sacrifices. I thought Liam was happy enough on the semi-pro circuit but then -BANG – he came of age, upped his game and scored two stunning wins against experienced opponents.

I called it his realisation time and I tentatively asked Liam where he thought he could go from here. He gave me the right reply, he had aspirations to turn pro and I’ve already began plotting his road map out to hopefully turn pro in the summer of this year. But first he has four fights lined up, two on my shows (one on Feb 24th and the other in April) and he’s also got a fight in Spain and one in Malta.

The Spanish fight is on a bill put on in Alicante by trainer/promoter Enaki Jano. Liam will be travelling with a team of six from Bethlehem in May but prior to that, we’re back in Malta with another team. The other Liam, seventeen year old Liam ‘not even the hardest bloke in his family’ McElduff delivered an absolutely sensational knockout on his Irish début in Downpatrick which has had 6500 views on Facebook, have a look for it if you can, it’s worth it.

Liam comes from a well known East Leeds family and using Liam’s extended family has proved to be a very effective if comical way to motivate a very laid back youngster. It’s early days for Liam but I have high hopes for him. As much as Liam is getting on with his boxing, he still has to do his gym duties, as did Liam Hayes who is still traumatised from dismantling a ring in Chorley and taking it down three flights of stairs, putting it in van and then having to cart it upstairs to Bethlehem when he was fourteen years old!

Seacroft’s Mark Black went on a winning run after a stuttering start to the year to earn a nickname ‘Mr.Perseverance,’ Stanks based Daniella Naylor seemed to come from nowhere on the ladies circuit as she impressively took her record to four wins, no defeats, like both Liam’s she’s quick and willing to learn.

Boxing has a habit of producing lights which shine bright but briefly and I have high hopes all three of the above mentioned will be here for the duration. The same goes for Marcus Howitt who topped off a great year winning his first Semi Pro title on the same bill as Liam in Downpatrick which bookended his year nicely as he started it with a win in Malta.
Happy to fight but not really thinking about the future too much are the two members of the over-40’s club. Lee Williams won the Semi Pro Yorkshire area title in his usual robust style and Wayne Garwood rounded off a great year winning the Yorkshire Area Challenge Championship in November. Both have proved you are never too old although I’m not sure if I’d pick up the gloves again as I turn 44 this year!

A quick reminder, Bethlehem Boxing are back on Made in Leeds TV this February.

Lee Murtagh 07793 240535



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