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Boxing Results: Ryota Murata stops Steven Butler

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By Mark Eisner:  WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) successfully defended his belt on Monday night in stopping an over-matched #8 WBA Steven Butler (28-2-1, 24 KOs) in the 5th round at the Arena, in Yokohama, Japan.


The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata hurt Butler with a right hand to the back of his head, and then dropped him seconds later with a short left hook. The referee Rafael Ramos immediately stepped in and waived it off while the 24-year-old Butler was still on his back. The time of the stoppage was at 2:45 of round 5.

Butler hurt by a straight right from Murata in 5th

Murata landed a big right hand to the head that got the ball rolling in the 5th, as he had Butler holding on after that shot. But it the shots to the back of the Canadian fighter Butler’s head that seemed to do the most damage in the round. Murata was looping his right hand shots to where they would land to the side or the back of Butler’s head, and he was eventually worn down by those punches.

Butler was hurt at the end of rounds 2, 3 and 4 by the hard right hands from Murata, and he was forced to clinch. There wasn’t much variation from the 33-year-old Murata in terms of his offense. It was basically just hand power shots from Murata the entire fight, and Butler was near helpless at stopping the fight.

A good fighter would have been able to block or duck Murata’s right hands, as he telegraphed everything he threw. Murata’s one-dimensional fighting style left no guesswork about what punches he would throw, but Butler lacks the defensive ability to negate that weapon. That’s obviously why Butler was chosen as an opponent for Murata, given how easy he was to hit with right hands.

 

Round 4 = beginning of the end for Butler

Murata stepped it up in the 4th round in nailing Butler with repeatedly right hands to the head, and backing him up. A lot of the shots hit Butler in the back of the head, and he looked in bad shape by the end of the round. The referee Rafael Ramos was watching the action closely in the last minute of the round, and he appeared to be on the verge of stopping it.

You can argue that the fight should have been stopped in the 4th, because Butler was getting hammered beyond belief by Murata. It was troubling to watch Butler absorb the repeated right hands by Murata, and looking tired and hurt.

Butler did land some nice body shots in every round of the fight, but Murata wasn’t slowed by the punches. If Butler had better defensive skills, he would have had an excellent chance of wearing Murata down and stopping him with his body shots.

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Butler is a good fighter, but he needs to retool his game for him to have a chance in the future to beat the upper level fighters. In 2017, Brandon Cook stopped Butler in the 7th round, and he’s not improved at all since that fight. Butler still can’t get out of the way of right hands, and his power isn’t good enough for him to win wars against quality guys.

Murata looked vulnerable against Butler

Top Rank promoters needs to be careful in how they match Murata, because he still looks VERY beatable as the WBA secondary middleweight champion. Murata has already lost to Hassan N’Dam and Rob Brant as a professional, and those guys aren’t considered elite level middleweights.

Currently, Chris Eubank Jr. is ranked #1 by the World Boxing Association, and he would likely be favored to beat Murata. However, Eubank Jr. seems more interested in challenging WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, as he wants to receive credit from the boxing public for beating the best. Murata is a good fighter, but he’s not considered to be the best champion at 160. He’s arguably the weakest link among the middleweight champions behind these fighters:

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  • Canelo Alvarez – WBA
  • Jermall Charlo – WBC
  • Gennadiy Golovkin – IBF
  • Demetrius Andrade – WBO

Eubank Jr. arguably did Murata a favor recently in stopping #2 WBA Matt Korobov in the 2nd round earlier this month on December 7. That win removes a big threat to Murata, and there’s not many other contenders that can worry the Japanese fighter. #1 WBA Eubank Jr. is looking to go after WBC champion Charlo, and #2 WBA Daniel Jacobs has moved up to 168. With Eubank Jr. and Jacobs no longer a threat to Murata’s reign, all that’s left are these guys:

  • Magomed Madiev
  • Carlos Lindsey Monroe
  • Patrice Volny
  • Mikalai Vesialou
  • Tureano Johnson
  • Rob Brant
  • Anatoli Muratov
  • David Papot
  • Alfonso Blanco
  • Carlos Gongora

Murata is a good fighter, but this writer rates him below these middleweights:

  1. Canelo Alvarez
  2. Jermall Charlo
  3. Gennadiy Golovkin
  4. Sergiy Derevyanchenko
  5. Demetrius Andrade
  6. Chris Eubank Jr.
  7. Jaime Munguia
  8. Maciek Sulecki
  9. Kamil Szeremeta

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