Rob Brant ruins the best laid plans
It seemed destined that a match-up in Tokyo, Japan, between Ryota Murata and former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin would come to fruition for the spring of 2019. It would be perhaps the biggest boxing event ever in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” a country which is currently in the midst of a boxing renaissance.
All that needed to happen was for Murata – defending his WBA “regular” title this past weekend at the Park Theater in Las Vegas – to defeat Rob Brant.
Brant, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, was basically dismissed coming in, for the most part, because of his unsuccessful foray into the super middleweight division, last year, when he was beaten decisively by veteran Juergen Braehmer in the World Boxing Super Series.
He had promised that particular experience had made him a better fighter coming in. And like FedEx, he delivered by thoroughly out-punching and out-boxing the Japanese beltholder over 12 fast-paced rounds. Brant started quickly and never faded and it was clear, by the end of the bout, that anything other than Brant having his hands raised in victory would have been a miscarriage of justice.
The three scorecards read 119-109 (twice) and 118-110; maybe this fight was a tad closer but there was no doubt who was the superior fighter. You can call this an upset based on the odds coming in but, in terms of what actually transpired inside the ring, Brant was clearly better in every way.
He didn’t just win; he made it look easy.
“Honestly I didn’t feel this was the way the fight was going to go,” Brant, 24-1 (16), admitted on Sunday morning. “I was very confident that he was definitely a slower guy. I had no idea I’d throw that many punches. That was a surprise to me, as well.”
From the opening bell, Brant was aggressive and consistently kept beating the slower Murata, 14-2 (11), to the punch. While he was passive last year against Braehmer, he had no such case of the nerves on Saturday night. Brant explained that his trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad stressed that they had to start right from the beginning to attempt to win every round and throw multiple jabs. However his activity never waned throughout. “When they told me the punch count at the end, I actually couldn’t believe it. That was pretty amazing,” said Brant, who threw well over 1,000 punches during this fight.”
Murata, whose face was bruised early on, had some success in the fifth frame but it has to be asked whether Brant could maintain his accelerated pace for all twelve rounds or fade down the stretch. It was something the defending titleholder was perhaps counting on.
“Honestly I kept expecting him to either open up or change something. By the fifth round, I told myself, as we were boxing, ‘He’s not going to get any better. This is kind of where he’s going to be at for the entire time.’ Mind you, it was probably the best round he’d had in the entire fight but, after that, not that he necessarily shot his load but he showed the best that he could do, showed the best that he had and I know I could out-work him.”
Brant never wavered and Murata failed to land that particular punch or series of them that turned the momentum.
“You only have 36 minutes to set yourself up for the rest of your life,” said Brant, reflecting back to what was learned during his defeat to Braehmer. “So I’m going to remember that – you can’t let a minute go by and I was fortunate enough to have the gas tank to take advantage fully that night.”
It still hadn’t hit Brant that he had won the title (which is really the secondary WBA belt). He told UCNLive.com, “I think I’m in a good position to wait for some phone calls, at this point. There’s a lot going on in the middleweight division. Nobody is scared of each other, so it’s going to be what’s the best decision for me, at this point.”
Having a regular version of the WBA strap doesn’t give one the status of a full-fledged beltholder. Brant even admits, “It’s more like I’ve thrown my name in the hat in order to be mentioned among some of the great champions, the super champions and the ones in the other sanctioning bodies. So more than anything it’s that you’re mentioned and not necessarily that you’re thinking, ‘I’m the champ’-type of feeling. Just knowing that your name is going to be thrown in the hat to fight among the best.”
As for what’s next, his adviser Cory “Go Big Blue” Rapacz, mentioned, “There’s a mandatory rematch clause if they elect to put it into effect. But other than that, we really don’t know.”
Based on the lopsided nature of the fight, would Murata want a rematch?
“We had heard from some Japanese media after the fight; they said that they were definitely going to take the rematch but who knows after they look at the tape?” said Rapacz. “(Murata)’s 32; that was a real physical fight. I just don’t know if that’s the direction they’ll go.”
For the time being, Brant will take a few weeks off from the gym, indulge at Taco Deli and ”go play with my dogs.”
But he won’t rest long on his laurels.
“This isn’t the beginning; it’s the introduction to the top level.”
So did you watch all the cards on ESPN+ and DAZN this weekend?…I thought Michael Conlan looked the best he has as professional in stopping Nicola Cipoletta in seven rounds…IBF bantamweight Emmanuel Rodriguez survived the spirited challenge of Jason Moloney to advance to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series 118-pound tourney, in which he’ll face Naoya Inoue…How explosive is Rondale Moore of Purdue?…Can anyone come within two touchdowns of Bama?…The Lakers will be fun to watch, even in defeat…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.