9 February 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Lee Murtagh has spoken of his regret at withdrawing from an Irish title contest for the second time.
Scheduled to face Anthony Fitzgerald for the super-middleweight crown, knee trouble has come back to haunt the 36-year-old as a result, Murtagh finds himself on the sidelines once again. Belfast native Ciaran Healy has been approved by the BUI to contest the vacant title.
I am really contemplating retirement now, he said.
I would like to apologise to Brian Peters, Tomas Rohan and Fitzgeralds management team for this and to everyone involved with the show.
No doubt some people will accuse me of constant pullouts but they should accept the fact that Im genuinely injured. It was my dream to win an Irish title and I would never deliberately withdraw from a professional contest.
As fate would have it, Murtagh has damaged the opposite leg in an injury separate from the one that forced him to cancel his first meeting with Fitzgerald, on December 5. He also revealed that fans taunted him when he attended the Stadium that night, claiming that Fitzgerald (who was busy drubbing replacement Matt Scriven) would beat him handily on February 13.
Ive offered to pay back the air fare that Tomas shelled out for me to travel over. I already spoke to [Fitzgeralds manager] Don OLeary and told him that the curse had struck again.
The former Irish light-middleweight title challenger then catalogued the events that caused the problem:
I was sparring on the previous Saturday, he continued, and I went to throw a punch and the top half of my body turned, but the lower half didnt, and I ended up going over on my knee. There was heavy swelling and it turned out Id torn the cartilage, which caused internal bleeding. I went to the hospital and got an X-ray but the injury couldnt be drained.
Im totally off my feet at the moment and ironically its the left leg, whereas last time I injured my right. I had taken two weeks in Tenerife to get away from the snow in Leeds and I felt great, was under the stipulated weight limit and am totally gutted about letting people down, Murtagh lamented.
I would love to come back, but I have a gym to run and if my knees are not working anymore, what else can I do but retire?