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Martinez predicts victory within eight rounds

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's WBC middleweight champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez predicted on Wednesday he would defeat Briton Martin Murray within eight rounds in next year's title defense.

Martinez, who was voted Argentina's sport personality of the year on Tuesday night ahead of goal record-breaking soccer player Lionel Messi, will be making his first defense since beating Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Las Vegas in September.

The fight will take place in Buenos Aires on April 27, possibly at the Velez Sarsfield soccer stadium although the venue has not yet been fixed.

"(Murray) is a great sportsman, to be respected. He's young and strong. It's great that he should want to give his all and I was the same but the fight won't go past the eighth round," Martinez told reporters.

Murray, the WBA's top-ranked middleweight, said he respected Martinez as an excellent fighter.

"He began at the bottom and today he's the most powerful in the division. But I'm better and can beat him," said Murray.

"It will be a great opportunity for me to show the world who I am."

The 37-year-old Argentine's record is 50-2-2, while Murray, 30, has won 25 fights with 10 knockouts and drawn one.

(Reporting by Luis Ampuero; Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by John Mehaffey; )

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