8 February 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Lee Murtagh will be hoping the knee injury that forced him out of a first proposed bout in December, will play no part in Saturdays Irish super-middleweight title fight at the National Stadium.
Leeds native Murtagh, who has been preparing in Spain, is originally from Short Strand in Belfast and has competed for the Irish title before, down at light-middleweight, losing to Ciaran Healy in 2007.
Murtagh kept busy in Limerick recently, posting a points win over Marcen Gierke, while Fitzgerald battered veteran survivor Matt Scriven for eight rounds on Matthew Macklin’s Stadium headliner.
Murtagh has the boxing skills and experience to fiddle and frustrate Fitzgerald but the fact he has never stopped anyone in 26 wins, coupled with 8 out of his 11 losses coming via knockout, presents a concern.
Fitzgerald is 6-2 but, at 24-years-old, is 12 years Murtagh’s junior and undoubtedly fresher. His defence and ring generalship have vastly improved – a testament to the abilities of coach Phil Sutcliffe – and he avenged a loss to Robert Long in the summer, which will have boosted his confidence.
Fitzgerald has been eight rounds in his last two fights so should have no issues doing the distance. All in all it looks ominous for Murtagh, who will need his knee at 100 per cent if he is to present a mobile target and use the angles to pick up points.
If Fitzgerald can find his rhythm early then he could start breaking Murtagh down as early as the middle section of the bout but I think the Leeds-man is savvy enough to win rounds and make it interesting.
Late in the fight, as Fitzgerald aims to take over, the veteran could find himself on the end of some meaty combinations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Murtagh outbox the local man for a long-awaited Irish crown but realistically it seems set for Fitzgerald to claim his first pro belt, over 10 hotly-contested sessions.