MARTIN Murray’s immediate rewards for demolishing Jorge Navarro on Saturday night were a WBA Interim belt and a ringing endorsement from the legendary fighter Roberto Duran.

‘Hands of Stone’ Duran congratulated the Warrington middleweight on a powerful performance which now opens the door for a challenge to WBC champion Sergio Martinez in the spring.

Murray’s confidence was already sky-high after twice flooring the previously unbeaten opponent with a clinical display, prompting the Venezuelan’s corner to throw the towel in during round six.

But the words of Duran, classed as one of the ‘Four Kings’ of boxing alongside Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler, was the icing on the cake.

The 30-year-old from Paddington said: “It was pretty surreal, but it was a great feeling to have such an absolute legend speaking to me like that.

“He said ‘Well done, good performance, it’s all there for you now. ‘You’re a good fighter and I wanted to come and tell you in person.’ “Hearing that from Roberto Duran gives me a little bit more motivation to keep training and working hard, and eventually getting there. It is a great feeling.”

Duran’s comments reinforce the view that Murray has now climbed on to the world stage, but he is taking nothing for granted.

“I am there now, fighting at world level but it is where we belong.

“Me and my team have put a lot of hard work in. This is where it gets even harder because the fights are harder.”

Although the contracts have yet to be signed, Murray is confident of being given a crack against Martinez on April 27.

Murray added: “The terms and conditions, the purse and the different dates are all agreed but it is about getting the contracts over and getting it signed.”

Although his record of 25 wins and one draw is almost perfect, he knows Martinez will be a different class altogether.

“My confidence will be sky high but Martinez is a different kettle of fish and in a league of his own.

“But I know I can beat him and have the style to do that.

“I know also the better the opponent the more I rise to the occasion. If ever there is a fight like that it is the Martinez one – and doing it in Argentina will make it even more of an uphill battle, but we know we can beat him,” he said.