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Ryota Murata vs. Emanuele Blandamura this Sunday


By Chris Williams: WBA World middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10 KOs) will be making a first defense of his secondary WBA title against #6 WBA Emanuele Blandamura (27-2, 5 KOs) this Sunday on ESPN at the Arena Yokohama, in Yokohama, Japan.

The World Boxing Association has two champions at 160. Gennady Golovkin is the main champion, whereas Murata is the second level or junior champion. The WBA was supposed to reducing the amount of champions in each weight class, but they’ve chosen instead to have two champions at 160.

The WBA would do a world of good if they ordered Golovkin and Murata to fight each other so they could eliminate one of the belt holders. I think it’s pretty clear which of the two champions would still be standing when the smoke clears from a fight between these two.

Murata vs. Blandamura will be televised in the U.S on Sunday morning on Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 8:00 a.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT. The fight will be replayed later at 11:00 a.m. ET. The fight hasn’t received much attention from U.S boxing fans on social media, so it’s unlikely to bring in huge ratings on ESPN. The timing of the fight could be better. There aren’t too many boxing fans that will be flipping channels at 8:00 AM on Sunday morning.

Murata, 32, avenged his loss to Hassan N’Dam last October in stopping him in the 7th round in Tokyo, Japan. Murata had previously lost to N’Dam in May 2017. While some boxing fans see that fight as being a robbery, it wasn’t as bad as some of the robberies that have taken place over the years.

Granted, Murata deserved the decision, but it wasn’t a complete robbery. Murata won a controversial gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, and there were three fights that he arguably should have lost in that competition to Esquiva Falcoa [Brazil], Abbos Atoev [Uzbekistan] and Adem Kilci (Turkey). Those wins for Murata were just as controversial as his loss to N’Dam in 2017 in my opinion. I had Murata losing three times in the 2012 Olympics, but there are no rematches in Olympic competition.

It’s unclear why Murata chose to fight the 38-year-old Blandamura, as he’s not well-known and not considered one of the better fighters in the division. With match-making like this, it increases the chances for Murata to hold onto his WBA title for a lot longer than he would if he decided to face good opposition. Murata is a decent fighter, but he would have MAJOR problems if he fought the likes of Golovkin, Saul Canelo Alvarez, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Jermall Charlo and Daniel Jacobs.

The WBA electing to have 2 champions at 160 made it possible for Murata to be a world champion. If not for that, he probably would just be one of the many contenders in the middleweight division trying to get a title shot against Golovkin. The WBA obviously needs to reduce the amount of champions they have in each weight class, because it’s confusing enough as it is with 4 titles on the line in each division. The WBA makes it 5 titles by them having 2 champions at 160.

“I’m looking forward to defending my title in front of my home fans,” Murata said via ESPN. “Blandamura has excellent speed, and I think he has great timing and rhythm. I believe I’m superior to Blandamura in power and stamina, and wish to fight by keeping my distance.”

If Murata beats the 38-year-old light hitting Blandamura, then Top Rank will be looking to match him against #13 Equiva Falcao in another voluntary defense later this year. Falcao is one of the three fighters that Murata beat by a controversial decision in the 2012 Olympics. Murata beat the Brazilian Falcao by a 14-13 score. Top Rank boss Bob Arum is said to be interested in matching Murata against Golovkin if he gets past Falcao. It would be very surprising if that fight comes to fruition, but it’s a smart move by Arum to go for that fight.

If Arum doesn’t match Murata up against Golovkin by that point, then he’ll have to face his WBA mandatory challenger and that will likely be Daniel Jacobs if he beats Maciej Sulecki in their fight on April 28. As much as I like Murata as a fighter, I can’t see him beating Jacobs. That’s a likely knockout loss for Murata no matter where they stage the fight. That’s why it’s better if Top Rank matches Murata against Golovkin, because they can steer around Jacobs, and it would be a bigger paying fight. If Murata is going to lose to someone, it’s better that he loses to Golovkin. At least a loss to Golovkin wouldn’t look as bad for Murata, because he would be getting beaten by the best fighter in the middleweight champion. Jacobs is perhaps the third or fourth best fighter in the 160 lb. division today.

“I’d like to have this fight appeal to the world,” Murata said. “Now that I have prepared very well, I wish to do and demonstrate my best.”

Unfortunately, Murata vs. Blandamura WON’T appeal to the world, because it’s a fight between a secondary champion and a 40-ish fringe contender. For Murata to have a fight that appeals to the world, he’s need to take some chances with his career by taking on talented opposition for a change instead of little known fighters that are getting up there in age like Blandamura and Hassan N’Dam.
In the last 10 fights, Murata has beaten these fighters:

• Hassan N’Dam x 2

• Bruno Sandoval

• George Tahdooahnippah

• Felipe Santos Peroso

• Gaston Alejandro Vega

• Gunnar Jackson

• Douglas Ataide

• Jessie Nicklow

• Adrian Luna Flores

Those are woeful opponents that Murata has fought since turning pro. That’s not a knock on Murata, but rather criticism aimed at the promoters for him. They’re not taking chances with him, and he’s talking about hoping that his fight with Blandamura, 38, appealing to the world. That’s not going to happen.

Murata is going to need to step it up several levels and face quality contenders if he wants to get the attention of the boxing world. Combing the ranks of obscure fringe contenders to pad his record with won’t do the trick for Blandamura.

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