Martin Murray remains in contention for another world title shot after comfortably defeating Roberto Garcia on points at the O2 Arena.
Murray, who was originally due to face Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO middleweight title, secured a unanimous points decision, 116-111, 118-109, 118-108, to end Garcia’s eight-year unbeaten run.
The 35-year-old is now mandatory challenger for WBC champion Gennady Golovkin, who is due to face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a rematch in Las Vegas in September.
Murray slightly edged the opening round against Garcia, who was then penalised for a low blow in the second.
The two fighters appeared to clash heads in the third round and it was Garcia who landed the first telling blow of the bout, catching Murray with a powerful right.
Murray recovered to take the middle rounds with some busy work before Garcia responded with a strong eighth and ninth.
However, the 38-year-old Mexican’s hopes of victory were further dented when he was deducted another point for shots to the back of the head as the fight neared its conclusion.
Garcia, now knowing he needed a knockout punch to win the fight, continued to come forward in the final rounds but Murray held on to secure an impressive win.