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Ryota Murata to defend against Steven Butler on Dec.23 on ESPN+

Image: Ryota Murata to defend against Steven Butler on Dec.23 on ESPN+

By Allan Fox: Ryota Murata (15-2, 12 KOs) will be defending his WBA ‘regular’ middleweight title on December 23 against challenger Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24 KOs) at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. Murata-Butler will be the headliner on the card on ESPN+. The Murata vs. Butler fight was announced on Wednesday during a news conference held by Teiken Promotions. This is a risky fight for Murata, as Butler has the power to beat him.

Steven Butler turned down offer from Demetrius Andrade for title shot

Butler is a fighter that is in demand by the champions at 160. Before accepting an offer to challenge Murata for his WBA title, #1 WBO ranked Butler was given an offer to challenge WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade. Instead of taking the Andrade fight, Butler opted to face Murata for his WBA title.

Murata has a fighting style that is more suited to the slugger Butler. It would be a nuisance for Butler to have to chase the defensive-minded Andrade around the ring for 12 rounds. At least with Murata, he’ll be standing right in front of Butler looking to trade.

Butler will be coming into the fight with Murata with a 10-fight winning streak since his lone career loss to Brandon Cook in 2017. Butler was stopped in the 7th round by Cook on January 28, 2017 in Montreal, Canada.

Ryota Murata recaptured his WBA title against Brant

Murata, 33, recently recaptured his World Boxing Association 160-lb title on July 12 in stopping Rob Brant in the 2nd round at the EDION Arena Osaka, in Osaka, Japan. With the victory, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata avenged his earlier loss to Brant from last year on October 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brant dominated Murata in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 118-110, 119-109 and 119-109.

Brant pushed for an immediate rematch with Murata, but instead he opted to let the Japanese fighter defend against his #Butler. Rob took a step aside deal to let Murata defend against Butler. Murata could end up regretting the decision to face Butler instead of Brant again, considering a much younger fighter  with a lot more power.

Murata vs. Butler winner must face Brant

Butler is just 24, and he’s heavy-handed, and has loads of ability. What he doesn’t possess experience, and that’s obviously why Murata is choosing to face him now rather than later. Nevertheless, the Murata vs. Butler winner will be required to defend against Brant in their next defense. In the meantime, Brant will be staying busy fighting in January against a still to be determined opponent.

This will be Murata’s first defense of his WBA secondary middleweight title. He previously held the same belt for three years from October 2017 to October 2018. Murata won the vacant WBA title in beating Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam by a 7th round stoppage in their rematch.

In their first fight, N’Dam pulled off a big upset in beating Murata by a controversial 12 round split decision in May 2017. The scores for that fight were 116-111, 115-112 for N’Dam, and 117-110 for Murata. However, the 2 judges that scored the contest for N’Dam were subsequently suspended, and a rematch was ordered by the WBA.

Brant threw an incredible 1,200 punches in winning. However, in the rematch 9 months later, Murata turned the tables in stopping the 29-year-old Brant in round 2. Murata landed an incredible 64 power shots during the second round, which was the second most by a middleweight. Mike McCallum has the record with 74 in his fight against Nicky Walker in 1991.

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