Rob Brant learns from loss
It was nearly a year ago when Rob Brant – who faces Ryota Murata this Saturday night, from the Park Theater in Las Vegas – suffered his lone professional loss. In 2017 the career middleweight was entered into the World Boxing Super Series 168-pound scrum and faced veteran Juergen Braehmer in Germany.
And boxing in a foreign country for the first time in his career, Brant seemed to freeze up a bit in losing a clear 12-round decision to Braehmer.
So did the weight or the atmosphere get to Brant?
“I think it was a combination of both,” said the 28-year-old native of St. Paul, Minnesota. “I definitely could’ve been better prepared. I was mentally prepared; physically I felt like I was just wasn’t prepared as I thought I probably should’ve been. I probably should’ve conducted camp a little bit differently, even though I was in Europe for probably three weeks prior to the fight.”
Every fighter believes he is ready for unfamiliar settings till he finds out he really isn’t.
“I just wasn’t fully prepared the way I should’ve been,” said Brant, who, since that loss has worked with veteran trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in Las Vegas. He admitted, “I just mentally kind of had that undefeated fighter mentality of ‘Things are going to work out, no matter what happens’ and before you know it, eight rounds have gone by and you realize it’s not going to happen.”
Versus Braehmer, it seemed as though Brant was never truly in the fight. He was there in spirit only. It was a rather puzzling performance.
“So it really gave me that sense of motivation now that if I do not do everything that I can do or should do, then I will lose and that’s not an option anymore, at this point. So I’m going to put it all together and do everything in order to win every round,” said Brant, who does believe losing can be very instructive.
“Absolutely, it’s a cliche people say but I truly see it now. I didn’t buy that explanation so much before I had lost and now afterwards there’s a sense of motivation and truly growing and learning from it,” said Brant, who has a mark of 23-1 (16). “I truly am better for the loss now, even though I would have rather walked away with a draw and learned that same lesson. But of course I did lose the fight, so therefore I had to learn a hard lesson. It’s a lesson learned, though.”
In Murata, Brant is facing a former Olympic gold medalist, who has designs on facing Gennady Golovkin and other top middleweights in high-profile and lucrative bouts. Murata holds the “regular” version of the WBA middleweight title. Of his foe, Brant tells UCNLive.com, “I think he’s a very good fundamental fighter. I’m not going to take anything away from him. He’s accomplished quite a bit in his career, both amateur and professional.”
Murata is a star in his native Japan and also a bit of an anomaly in that he’s one who competes above the featherweight division at a world-class level.
Brant opines, “I do feel he’s more of a product of being a big fish in a small pond, in terms of middleweight talent in Japan, in a country that has a lot of pride in their athletes. So therefore if you get that much drive behind somebody, yeah, the big promotions of the world are going to look at you a little bit differently, put you on a pedestal I don’t necessarily feel he deserves to be on. To be in the same conversation as (world middleweight champion Saul) ‘Canelo’ (Alvarez) and ‘Triple G’ and (Danny) Jacobs.
“I don’t think he’s on the same talent scale or the talent scale I’m on because I know I’m eventually going to be on that level. But it all comes from winning this one first. So do I think he’s at that level? No, I do not but he’s very distinguished. I have not been in there with him yet. He’s very established; he’s an Olympic gold medalst – and that doesn’t happen easily – so I definitely respect him. He’s talented but do I think he’s on that level?
“I do not.”
While he was passive against Braehmer, Brant promises to be purposeful this weekend.
“You have to turn it into a professional fight with him,” he explained, “which is delivering damage, due to the fact that he is very good at playing tag. You don’t win the Olympic gold medal if you’re not good at that point style of scoring.” It’s clear that Brant wants to turn this into a contest in which the leather flies freely. “If you stay on the outside and play shot for shot and go nickel and dime, I think he’d be pretty solid, pretty good at that. If you rough him a little bit, start fast, get him on the back foot, I think he’s in a lot of trouble and, once he starts to lose that momentum, you can definitely put doubt into him, especially seeing how he’s coming from a different time zone. He just got here early this week or late last week; I believe.
“I think it’s something where I think he made a lot of mistakes coming into this bout, that I decided not to make.”
The mild-mannered Brant admits to being more than a bit perturbed by all the chatter surrounding Murata, 14-1 (11), and a potential fight versus Golovkin.
“Honestly it is a little bit of extra motivation, just to know that this guy doesn’t even give me the proper amount of respect to say my name before he brings up Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez. It’s a little more fuel to the flame,” he says. “It just lets me know that the respect I have for him, it ends up at the press conference and in the build-up. Once you get in the ring, there is no respect.
“Especially with a guy like Murata, once you give him too much respect in the ring, he starts to create momentum and I’m never going to give him that opportunity.”
Should Brant win, well, then he’ll be the guy with the lucrative options moving forward. However he says, “I wouldn’t disrespect Murata to say that after this, that, ‘I’m looking for some of that DAZN money.’ I’m not that guy. I understand that Murata is a very real champion and I’m going to have to beat him and then afterwards I’ll be able to decompress myself and then figure out where we go from here.
“Because trust me: Once I win the belt, I’m sure that will come with a lot of opportunity. So first things first, I’ve got to get that belt.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me:
ESPN+ is where you can watch Murata-Brant on Saturday night, starting at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT…ESPN+ will also stream undefeated light heavyweight Anthony Yarde’s fight earlier that afternoon…DAZN has continued coverage of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament as IBF titlist Emanuel Rodriguez faces Jason Moloney…Beto Duran and I will be ringside tonight from the Doubletree Hotel, in Ontario, for the latest Thompson Boxing Promotions card featuring unbeaten bantamweight prospect Saul Sanchez…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.