Ryota Murata to defend WBA ‘regular’ middleweight title at Park MGM in Las Vegas

WBA "regular" middleweight titlist Ryota Murata (left) vs. Rob Brant

WBA “regular” middleweight titlist Ryota Murata (left) vs. Rob Brant


On October 20, Top Rank and ESPN will be in Las Vegas to co-host a card at the Park MGM Hotel. The card will be headlined by former Olympian Ryota Murata, 14-1 (11), and Rob Brant, 23-1 (16), who will do battle for Japanese star Murata’s WBA “regular” middleweight title.


In pre-fight interviews, Murata, a huge sports figure in Japan, seemed happy and excited to be making his third Las Vegas appearance, as he’s looking to expand his brand in North America.


“It is the dream of all boxers to headline in Las Vegas and, for me, this is certainly a dream come true,” Murata said. “Rob Brant is an excellent opponent and I will prepare my best to put on a great performance for all of the fans in Las Vegas. I am only getting started as a world champion.”


And while Brant knows he isn’t the favorite going in, he certainly feels he is a live dog and is looking to pull off the win.


“I am very excited about my upcoming bout with Ryota Murata. This fight has been on my mind since before he fought Hassan N’Dam,” Brant said. “Though I respect all of his accomplishments, I have always felt as though I have all of the tools to clearly defeat him. Not only has it been a life goal of mine to be a world champion but also to headline a card in Las Vegas at a major venue. I take none of this lightly. This means the world to me and that will reflect on October 20.”


Main Event – Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant, 12 rounds, WBA “regular” middleweight title


This is a fight!


Minnesota’s Brant is looking to pull off the upset over Murata. Brant’s only loss is to former WBA light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer of Germany, two fights ago, and he knows this is the opportunity of a lifetime. He went the full 12 with a 175-pounder in Germany, so if he can come in strong at 160 pounds, he will be a full night for Murata.


Murata only has 15 bouts under his belt and three of them have been world title fights. After losing in his first title bid, in May of last year, to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, he stopped him five months later in the rematch to pick his title. Murata stopped Emanuele Felice Blandamura in his first defense last April and is looking to add Brant to his resume in the win column.


WBA "regular" middleweight titlist Ryota Murata (right) vs. Emanuele Blandamura. Photo credit: Associated Press Photo/Koji Sasahara

WBA “regular” middleweight titlist Ryota Murata (right) vs. Emanuele Blandamura. Photo credit: Associated Press Photo/Koji Sasahara


Murata will need to bring his A-game to beat Brant. Good fight – leaning toward Murata but not by much.


The card will also feature some other hot prospects that will be looking to be showcase their skills in Sin City.


Lets take a look at three interesting match-ups:


Maxim Dadashev, 11-0 (10) vs. Antonio DeMarco, 33-6-1 (24), 10 rounds, junior welterweights


Dadashev, managed by Egis Klimas, is half of the poster fight for “experienced veteran vs. up-and-coming prospect.” Klimas feels Dadashev is ready for a step-up fight and he is certainly getting that in this contest. DeMarco, the former WBC lightweight champion, has been in with an impressive list including Adrien Broner, Miguel Roman, Jesse Vargas, Jorge Linares and John Molina Jr. DeMarco is coming in feeling good, as he KO’d previously undefeated Eddie Ramirez last October. However he has been off for a year and Dadashev has had two fights this year. This is a great fight that will show which direction each boxer is going.


Esquiva Falcao, 21-0 (15) vs. Guido Pitto, 25-5-2 (8), 10 rounds, middleweights


Brazil’s Falcao has been a perfect 21-0 in 21 contests but he has yet to have that signature performance that turns heads. Despite stopping 15 of his 21 opponents, he doesn’t present as having destructive power and usually wears opponents down with a strong work rate and good conditioning. Top Rank is looking for a spot to get him into a title shot at some point and Falcao needs to deliver on some exciting performances to get fans pumped up about him and to beat the drums for a title shot.


Michael Conlan, 8-0 (5) vs. Nicola Cipolletta, 14-6-2 (4), eight rounds, featherweights


Irish eyes are smiling when “Mick” steps between the ropes and the undefeated featherweight is looking to see if the he can generate some love in the desert, with his first Vegas performance. The popular Irishman has fought four of his eight bouts in New York, where he has developed a strong following. He comes into the bout off a win over 24-fight veteran Adeilson Dos Santos, in Belfast last June, and will be looking to impress in his Sin City debut.



Weekend Wrap


WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (left) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (left) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank


– WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 34-0 (25), sent over 13,000 Omaha boxing fans home happy with a 12the round stoppage over previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr., 27-1 (18), on Saturday night at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. There had been a lot of trash talk back and forth between the two camps but, in the end, skills paid the bills with the uber-talented Crawford executing a perfect game plan. Once Crawford had his timing and distance down on the taller, rangy Benavidez, it was a one-sided affair, with Bud dropping and stopping Benavidez before the final bell in the 12th round, to the delight of Bud’s frenzied Omaha faithful.


– WBO junior flyweight champion Angel “Tito” Acosta, 19-1 (19), scored an impressive second round KO over Abraham “Choko” Rodriguez, 23-2 (11), on Saturday night in Las Vegas.


– WBA “regular” welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has signed with manager Al Haymon, according to the Manila Bulletin. Haymon, who works with Floyd Mayweather Jr., might looking to set up a potential rematch with Pacquiao, as Mayweather has been talking comeback.


– Speaking of Pacquiao, he is apparently going to face Adrien Broner in January 2019.


– Finally we say goodbye to former Canadian heavyweight champion Patrice L’Heureux, who sadly passed suddenly from a heart attack last week, at the all-too-young age of 46. L’Heureux, a popular Quebec, Canada-based fighter, compiled a recored of 25-4-1 (13) during his 10-year career. Longtime trainer Russ Anber, deeply saddened by the news of the passing of his friend, and who had worked with L’Heureux over the years, described L’Heureux as “one of the nicest people, one of the kindest, dearest souls I have even known in or out of boxing.” RIP Patrice.




Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.




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