Early Sunday morning here in the United States after an almost absucre weekend of boxing Top Rank and Teiken Promotions broadcast a WBA Regular Middleweight world title main event on ESPN out of the Action Arena, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. It would be the first title defense for Ryota Murata since winning the belt last October against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. His opponent former EBU European Middleweight champion Emanuele Felice Blandamura.
The contest between Ryota Murata and Emanuele Felice Blandamura didn’t gain very much mainstream attention among U.S. boxing fans.It might have been the early 8am EST broadcast, the fact despite being a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist outside of Japan is a virtual unknown or a little of both. A majority of fans who have even heard of Murata outside of Japan know of him more than likely because of his pair of controversial bouts against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.
In May of 2017 Murata lost to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam when they first met for the WBA regular 160 pound title, that night contest Murata pressed N’Dam landed the harder more telling blows but lost a split decision by scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. The only score in favor of Murata was the 117-110 handed in by Raul Caiz Sr.
The WBA was embarrassed that their Judges handed in such a wide separation of scoring making them appear incompetent they ordered an immediate rematch. In the October of 2017 rematch when the two men faced off Murata would be on the right side of the decision by scores of 70-63, 68-65 and 69-64.
That win for Murata despite being for a title belt went without international fanfare as most of boxing in terms of middleweight news was still focusing on the September scoring controversy between unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. They were also looking closely at WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders who had just schooled Willie Monroe Jr and was heading to North America for his international debut. Those factor’s left little interest in a WBA regular title which had been contested in Japan without international TV audience. That all mattered little to the Japanese boxing public as they embraced Murata with pride.
This Sundays title defense for Murata did little to captivate audiences, the first round of the bout would actually go in favor of Blandamura who used movement to stay away from Murata and his clubbing right hand. Once the second round began it became what was expected a systematic beating, Blandamura circled while Murata slowly closed in used basic combinations to the body and head. He would finally halt the Italian challenger with a right hand to the head as the eighth round neared ending. With the win and his first successful title defense Ryota Murata improved to 14-1 (11), Emanuele Felice Blandamura now stands at 27-3 (5).
With all those factors involved for most the conversation of Ryota Murata and his title defense against Emanuele Felice Blandamura ends. What else is there to talk about? Things went as planned, Murata beat an opponent who was there to be beaten and make him look good yet I see more to Murata and his role in the division. I don’t look down at his opponent chosen for his first title defense like many have been since early this morning.
In a division full of big names not too mention the PED scandal surrounding Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez rematch, this fight outside of Japan did nothing to boost the status of Murata. On paper Emanuele Felice Blandamura could not have been a more perfect opponent for Murata to showcase his ability at home in front of a pro-Murata crowd and that very well in the case. We should not pretend that numerous of our current stars have not had such luxuries provided to them in fact they have had softer touches and avoided the same criticism. There are two names in the headlines daily that come to mind unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and WBC heavyweight belt holder Deontay Wilder both faced recycled journeyman Eric Molina for easy victories to please home crowds.
There is no question in my mind Emanuele Felice Blandamura is not only a more credible opponent than Eric Molina but more credible opponent than than Tommy Karpency who was given a shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson several bouts ago. He might not be as marketable or known as Kell Brook or Amir Khan both after jumping several weight classes were blasted out by the divisions top two stars Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. When thinking about those title defenses suddenly Emanuele Felice Blandamura is a genuine middleweight who has had championship success even if only on the European level suddenly doesn’t appear to be the worst of opponent choices now does he?
When watching Ryota Murata he seems one dimensional, his title a “Regular World title” is not taken seriously by many fans and because of that already people who have little or no knowledge of Murata prior to Sunday morning are calling him a product of Japanese media Hype. What should be made out of Murata in my opinion? It’s too early for me to personally give a fair opinion on him though I do know this.
On the surface Ryota Murata looks one dimensional and should be easy to defeat yet that can be said for many of the sports biggest names. He looks to be lacking anything but basic boxing fundamentals yet those basic fundamentals won him an Olympic gold medal, if that’s all he has in his arsenal Murata has them perfected and fighters have gone a long way with less. While I am not insinuating Ryota Murata is going to suddenly take over the middleweight division I am saying this with confidence. RYOTA MURATA IS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!
While the promoter most associate Murata with is Top Rank, its important to remember he has Teiken promotions and their gyms behind him. The same Teiken who produced Shinsuke Yamanaka, Jorge Linares, Roman Gonzalez, Takashi Miura, Genaro Hernández, Edwin Valero, César Bazán, Alexander Munoz, Toshiaki Nishioka and Toshiyuki Igarashi. One thing Teiken does not produce is media hyped or manufactured fighters those who were not elite prior to their association with Teiken left there as elite which gives me little reason to believe that will change with Ryota Murata.
He will need to make every win more spectacular than the last, media outside of Japan will find reasons not to give him credit for his wins no matter who the opponent or how dominate. I have a feeling that’s fine with Ryota Murata because while the boxing world continues paying attention to the UK and US stars he will continue doing what he is doing. The Teiken team will continue building him into a complete fighter. Then one day be it by choice or some unexpected sanctioning body politics Ryota Murata will be a name that cannot be avoided. When that happens as with any fight in boxing there is not real predictable outcome but one thing is for sure. On that night whoever the opponent be it Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez or Billy Joe Saunders if they or their teams haven’t been paying attention to Murata and his progress. If they enter the fight blindly looking past him they are fools.