Ryota Murata faces Rob Brant on Oct.20 on ESPN+
By Chris Williams: Ryota Murata will be defending his World Boxing Association ‘regular’ middleweight title against Rob Brant on October 20 on ESPN+ at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Having Murata vs. Brant on ESPN+ is an interesting move on Top Rank’s part, as it means fewer boxing fans are going to be bothering to watch it due the service being a subscription based one that costs $5 per month. It would have been wiser for Top Rank to have Murata-Brant on regular ESPN so that the casual boxing fans could see the fight without having to pay extra.
Given that Murata doesn’t have a fan base to speak of in the U.S, it would be a better move for him to first build up his base and then later have his fights moved to ESPN+. Of course, it’s going to be next to impossible for Murata to win new boxing fans in the States as long as he’s facing poor opposition like Brant and Emanuele Blandamura.
Top Rank Boxing had previously had plans for Murata to face Jason Quigley on October 20. Murata’s promoters at Top Rank were able to work a deal with Brant’s promoter Greg Cohen for the fight to go ahead. Brant was originally supposed to get 50 percent of the purse, but it’s unclear how much he’ll be getting after Top Rank and Cohen made a deal for the fight. It would have been a major negative for both fighters if Murata had vacated or had the WBA strip him of his title.
Murata would have been stripped of his WBA title for failing to defend against the ordered fight against #2 Brant (23-1, 16 KOs). Brant’s promoter Greg Cohen had won the purse bid for the Murata fight. Murata wisely chose to face the 27-year-old Brant in order not to be stripped of his WBA title. Having the WBA belt in his possession makes Murata a more viable opponent for the big names in the middleweight division like Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez. Without the WBA strap, Murata is just another contender, who lost to Hassan N’Dam and who has never fought anyone of note since turning pro in 2013 after winning a controversial gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. If Murata have vacated his WBA title by refusing to face Brant, then he wouldn’t have much of a pull to get Canelo or Golovkin to fight him.
For the 32-year-old Murata, he’ll be making his second defense of his WBA secondary middleweight title. The primary champion with the WBA at 160 is Golovkin. The WBA has two champions in the middleweight division with GGG called the ‘Super World’ champion and Murata holding the WBA ‘World’ belt. Murata made his first defense of his WBA title last pril in defeating Emanuel Blandamura by an 8th round knockout.
Brant lost to Juergen Braehmer by a 12 round unanimous decision last December in Germany. It was a one-sided fight with Brant receiving a boxing lesson at the hands of the 39-year-old Braehmer. Brant rebounded from that loss to defeat journeyman Colby Courter by a 1st round knockout last March.