Paige Murney: “It’s a big thing turning pro and I can’t wait.”
By Lewie Laing
Women’s boxing right now is currently on a rapid rise with that growth seemingly continuing every single time a female fighter steps through the ropes.
Paige Murney is the latest female fighter to turn professional following a glittering amateur career in which she represented Team GB, winning a silver medal at the 2019 Commonwealth Games. Murney is relishing being a part of the red hot scene that is women’s boxing.
“It’s a big thing turning pro and I can’t wait! Covid has held up the process in terms of turning over and getting my medical and stuff like that behind the scenes. I turned pro in the middle of this year and I’m ready to go. I’m looking forward to doing more rounds, it’s still two-minute rounds and fast-paced but I think more rounds will suit me better. No head guards and smaller gloves should be interesting.”
It has been said that amateur and professional boxing are like two different sports. Some fighters have reached the pinnacle of amateur boxing only to find the paid ranks a different world and sometimes, one they don’t quite fit into.
Fighters go from the top of the amateur circuit to the bottom of the professional game overnight and must build all over again. From adapting styles to creating a media presence and selling tickets, the pressure is on for fighters to hit the ground running. Murney believes her amateur experiences will help and not hinder her, as she strives to reach the top of the sport.
“I want to move quickly but at the right time. If you move too quickly, you can get found out. I want competitive fights, I don’t want to be fighting journey women, I want fights that are going to test me and move me forward. Once I get to the level of challenging for belts, I want to win and stay at that level.
“I think outside of Leicester, I’m not that well known. Because I’m not too active on social media, not many people have heard of me. As soon as people see me, they will see my pedigree. I was on Team GB for three years, hard training camps, around the world sparring and fighting tough girls. You are away from home, eating poor food, fighting three and four days in a row, not sleeping well, it all adds up but it builds you mentally. I have medaled at the majority of tournaments at home and abroad. It will all stand me in good stead moving into the pro game and help me show what I can do.”
Couple Murney’s experience, talent, and pedigree with the fact she has a solid team around her and it is hard to argue that she will not succeed. Long-time amateur trainer Ajamal ‘Hudge’ Butt will continue to guide her in the ring as a professional in familiar surroundings with familiar faces. Murney has also teamed up with Dave Coldwell, who will be managing her career and looking to guide her world titles.
“There’s a mix of pros and amateurs in our gym, We are all very close. I’ve been with ‘Hudge’ for around nine years, so he will train me in the pros. We are like a family in the gym and all support each other. Not a lot of people know but I started part-time on Team GB before I went to the Commonwealth Games. I was working and training and was told I would be going to the commonwealth and that is when I went full time with Team GB until I turned pro.
“I was the only athlete who was not full-time training heading to Australia. Hudge was the one who got me onto GB and trained me whenever I was home. It felt natural for me to turn pro with Hudge, he knows me better than anyone and knows how to get the best out of me.”
“Hudge had been taking one of the lads to Dave Coldwell’s gym for sparring, so that opened the door. Dave doesn’t have a big group of fighters, but the fighters he does train and manage, he has got them into good positions. Dave has links to both Matchroom and Sky Sports and is well connected and respected and has a wealth of experience which can only be a good thing.”
Murney will make her professional debut at lightweight in December on a card promoted by Carl Greaves, and couldn’t be happier because as it will be in her hometown of Leicester. It is a long-awaited return to home soil and one she is looking forward to. For all this is the debut, Murney tells FightPost she want fights under her belt over the next twelve months and to propel herself into the mix of title contention.
“I’ve asked for six rounds for my debut, it is not on a big TV show, it’s a smaller show in my hometown which is a homecoming for me as I haven’t boxed in England for four years, I haven’t boxed in Leicester for around six years. I’m so happy my debut is a homecoming in Leicester! I want to get back in the ring and enjoy my debut. Next year I want four or five fights and towards the back end of the year, my team will assess where I am at. I want to be active, and work my way up the rankings, maybe fight for a European title on the way to world titles.”
The smaller number of fighters on the female side of boxing means a shot at a title may not be too many fights away, even for debutant fighters. Losing doesn’t seem such a taboo subject for women either, who are happy to put it all on the line win, lose or draw. Murney is not fazed at the thought of losing, as long as fighters are competitive and entertaining.
“The likes of Ellie Scotney and Sandy Ryan, the GB girls are showing that we have a skill set and we can fight and entertain. I think since lockdown, there have been women fighting on or headlining on a lot of shows. Women’s boxing is growing rapidly and I want to be a part of that.
“I want to fight other British girls, there is more excitement for us fighters and the fans because there is something on the line, there is more interest.
“I am willing to take risks, I am not worried about a loss. We are seeing in wĺomen’s boxing at the moment, the best fighting the best. We aren’t too bothered about taking a loss. I think more fighters need to be like this. In the amateurs, you find out who you are fighting on the day and you fight them. As long as you learn from it, it doesn’t matter. You can lose and still perform well which can lead to other opportunities.”