Martin Murray hit by visa woes

Updated: March 20, 2012, 1:34 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

English middleweight Martin Murray, who had signed for a June 16 fight with middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., withdrew from the proposed HBO bout on Tuesday because he cannot obtain a visa in time to enter the United States.

Although Chavez (45-0-1, 31 KOs) had not yet made a deal with promoters Top Rank and Fernando Beltran for the bout, Murray's camp had finalized its part of the deal for the fight at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

However, Hatton Promotions, Murray's promoter, said that because Murray spent time in prison when he was younger, he encountered delays in getting the necessary visa, forcing him out of the fight. Murray served four stints behind bars, totaling about five years, for crimes such as street fighting and robbery.

"Despite being a model citizen these days, he cannot get the paperwork rubber-stamped in time for a U.S. and Mexican press tour later this month and the fight is now off," Hatton Promotions said in a statement.

The 29-year-old Murray (23-0-1, 10 KOs) broke out of obscurity in December when he fought middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm to a split draw in Germany.

Murray was, of course, disappointed that he cannot face Chavez.

"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 said he hoped his situation would be a lesson to kids who are at risk of falling on the wrong side of the law.

"I am a qualified youth worker and spend lots of time working with kids making an effort to help keep them out of trouble," he 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."

Murray thanked his promoters and Chavez's promoters for working to put the fight together, adding that he hopes it can happen at a later date.

Neil Marsh, Murray's manager, and Hatton Promotions said they will still try and get the British and Commonwealth champion a visa for a possible future fight in the United States. Until then, they will plan for his next title defense of his domestic belts.

Said Ricky Hatton, the former junior welterweight champion and head of Hatton Promotions, "This is a sledgehammer blow for Martin and his team, but everyone at Hatton Promotions will work to get him another world title fight."

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