It was a huge step up in class for the Cavan lightweight, a three-time Irish amateur champion, whose impeccable 22-bout professional record almost bit the dust when the 30-year-old Brazilian floored him with a sharp left hook followed by a big right cross to the head in the first minute.
Granted Murray was off balance when the latter punch connected but he recovered his composure quickly and went straight on the offensive. He was caught with another big overhand right seconds from the bell, but came out for the second behind a water-tight defence and proceeded to claw his way back into the contest with some flashes of brilliance.
By the end of the seventh round it was clear that only a gigantic effort would reclaim control for Lacerda, who had lost only one of his professional bouts, and he came back to share the eighth.
But Murray worked from behind a tight guard and drove home his advantage with a strong finish before referee Emile Teidt scored the bout 98-92.
Lacerda had no problem with the verdict and, in fact, raised Murray’s hand in victory before the referee’s decision was announced. In another gesture he hung his Latino Belt over Murray’s shoulder.
“I was more off balance than anything else with the knockdown, but it was still a good punch and I wasn’t complaining about the count,” Murray said of his opening round knock down.
“My back leg went and I just couldn’t keep my balance. It was the first time I was knocked down as a professional and only the second time in my life. It was a good punch, there’s no doubt about that, but he hit me with other shots that hurt me more. My trainer, John Breen, told me in the corner after the first round: ‘That’s gone. You lost that, so just concentrate on one round at a time.’
“On paper it was probably the best win of my career. Lacerda had built a good record and he punched well, but I used my height and boxing skills to keep him off. He was ranked 14th in the world, so this has to move me up a few places. I feel ready for a shot at the European title. I think I showed that Andy Murray can come back from a crisis and that when the going gets tough, I can take it.”
There was disappointment for local fans on the night when Belfast’s Ciaran Healy stripped John Waldron of his Irish light heavyweight title with a fifth-round stoppage. Healy, a former light middleweight champion, inflicted some punishing combinations on the Ballyhaunis man before referee Paul McCullagh stepped in.
Irish featherweight champion Patrick Hyland enhanced his reputation with 78-73 points victory over Suat Laze, an Albanian boxing out of Italy, to bring his unbeaten record to 21.
Belfast heavyweight Martin Rogan was told his cousin, Susan Greaves, had passed away while warming-up for the fight in the dressing room but still came out to outpoint durable German Werner Kreiskott by 59-56.
Mayo had two winners when Henry Coyle (Geesala) recorded an 80-72 victory over Sandor Ramocsa (Hungary), while super-featherweight Finbarr Eade had a comfortable 40-34 victory over Bulgarian Plamen Kostadinov.
Roscommon super-middleweight Darren Cruise enjoyed a 40-36 victory over Zahari Mutafchiev.