Ryota Murata to defend on October 20 against possibly Rob Brant
By Chris William: WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) will be making his second defense of his WBA title against possibly #3 WBA Rob Brant (23-1, 16 KOs) on October 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata’s fight on October 20th will be televised on ESPN+ on Top Rank Boxing.
Brant, 27, still isn’t official for Brant’s next fight, but he appears to be the leading candidate to get the fight. The venue for Murata’s next fight will be at either the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay, according to ESPN. This is where Murata’s co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank is interested in staging his October 20 fight.
Murata is the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion. In other words, he’s the secondary champion for the World Boxing Association at 160. The main champion is Gennady Golovkin, who holds the WBA Super World middleweight title. Arum is interested in matching Murata against Golovkin as soon as the smoke clears from his fights against Saul Canelo Alvarez.
Murata is far from being a star in the U.S, as his fights have been televised at odd hours when they’ve been piped into the States from his home country of Japan. Murata lost to Hassan N’Dam by a 12 round spli decision last year in May 2017 in a fight for the vacant WBA World middleweight title. Some boxing fans felt that it was a controversial decision win or N’Dam so a rematch took place last October, and Murata was able to defeat N’Dam by a 7th round stoppage to avenge his defeat and capture the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight belt.
In Murata’s first defense of his WBA strap, he defeated fringe contender Emanuele Felice Blandamura by an 8th round knockout. It was a poor opponent for Murata, but not surprising because he’s not looked all that great in his fights as a pro. He was better as an amateur.
Top Rank is interested in matching Murata against their fighter Esquiva Falcao (20-0, 14 KOs) in a fight that will likely take place next year. The 30-yar-old Falcao is one of Top Rank’s own fighters, so this would be an in house fight for them, which they tend to do a lot of. Murata defeated Falcao by a controversial 14-13 decision in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Murata isn’t likely going to keep his WBA title for long, as he’s got a lot of holes in his game, but it’ll be fun to see him and Falcao fight again. Hopefully there’s no controversy this time.
For Top Rank to build up Murata enough to make him a star in the U.S, it’s going to take some risk taking when it comes to the match-making they’re doing with him, and thus far it doesn’t appear they’re interested in matching him against live bodies. Murata is being matched in a similar way as WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in exclusively facing weak opposition. For Murata to get to the next level, Top Rank will need to break from this pattern by having him defend against the likes of Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Maciej Suleciki or Sergiy Derevyanchenko. I’m not sure that Murata can beat any of those guys.