Graham supports Murray but says Khan would beat him

Boxing News Terry Dooley9th July, 2009

SINCE his retirement in August of last year, Billy Graham has always stayed in touch with the sport, texting when significant events occur, coming through with late-night phone calls that turn into impromptu interviews, and the trainer is always the first on the phone after we have attended a live show: keeping up with the results, passing on messages for the fighters, and giving us his thoughts on the contests; a boxing Trotsky, as my girlfriend calls him.

A John Murray contest always prompts a call from Graham. John's last three fights have been televised; two of them - against Lee Meager and Lee McAllister - were British title fights. Graham phoned immediately after each contest, asking if the fight had been as intense on site as it was on screen, the sign-off line always the same: "John Murray, what a tough little b*****d he is!"

Murray went before the BBBofC on Wednesday, having lost his British lightweight title on the scales last month, and the board handed down a £1500 fine as their official punishment. Graham called to pledge his support to Murray, claiming that John has now suffered enough.

"I hope the board allows him to fight for the British title again soon," stated Graham. "I know how professional [nutritionist] Kerry Kayes is, there is no way they will have had problems bringing him down in weight. Kerry is an expert, and look at how strong John looked on the night. John made a mistake, a miscalculation, and he admitted that; he shouldn't be penalised any more than he has been already, as he has already lost the British title."

"That was punishment enough," he continued. "That is as far as it should go. Everybody can make a mistake, and boxers have a hard enough time as it is without getting penalised. It was only a fraction, he won't do it again."

Billy is desperate to see Murray versus Jon Thaxton, with the British lightweight title at stake.

"I think it is a fans' fight," he told me. "Jon has been around for years, he is a real professional, he still looks after himself even now. I think it will be perfect for the fans, and I pray that this little misdemeanor doesn't prevent it from happening, because it won't be fair on the punters."

Graham guided Ricky Hatton to a points win over Thaxton in 2000 and feels that Murray will be able to replicate, or maybe even surpass, Hatton's acheivement.

"I like John in this fight; at this stage of the game he has too much for Thaxton," explained Graham. "Thaxton can still fight, that is for sure. Thaxton can still punch as well, he can be awkward, but Murray is on the up. I can't see Jon handling Murray at this stage. Jon Thaxton is still tough, but Murray is just ridiculously tough, f*****g hell."

"I like John," he enthused. "Oh yeah, definitely, I'm still a boxing fan, and I am a big Murray fan. Great to watch, knows how to fight, incredibly tough, really, really, strong. He is improving all the time."

There was a word of caution, however, as Graham thinks that Amir Khan, Murray's dream opponent, has the style to give John nightmares. "Khan is another matter. A little bit too quick for John," he claimed. "Amir Khan is getting better, then again John is getting better, but Amir is physically and mentally maturing.

"People say Amir has not got the best chin in the world, but that is unfair. Let's face it, they were devastating punches that he took off Bredis Prescott, and he still tried to get up! They were massive shots. Fighters get tougher as they get older."

"I am a fan of both Murray and Khan," he continued. "It is one of those fights that you can argue for both ways. Murray is so, so strong and tough, and has ability; don't forget that I brought him in to spar with Ricky Hatton, and he held his own. If I had to put money on it I would say Khan at this stage, a little bit too fast for John, but it is a wicked fight."

Khan fights for the WBA light-welterweight title next weekend. Graham believes that his opponent Andreas Kotelnik is massively underrated, but hopes that Khan will bring the belt back home to the UK. "I hope so, for Britain's sake, I hope he does it," he said. "I will be rooting for Amir every step of the way."