Murata to defend middleweight crown against Brant

Ryōta Murata is the reigning world middleweight champion. (AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Japan’s Ryōta Murata puts his claim to boxing’s world middleweight throne at risk on Saturday when he faces American Rob Brant in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old from Tokyo defends the World Boxing Association “regular” middleweight crown for the second time, having stopped France’s Hassan N’Dam a year ago to win the title and stopped Italy’s Emanuele Blandamura in April to keep the crown.

“It’s the dream of all boxers to headline in Las Vegas, and for me, this is certainly a dream come true,” Murata said. “I’m only getting started as a world champion.”

Murata, 14-1 with 11 knockouts, has a lesser middleweight crown to that of WBA Super champion Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez of Mexico, who fights WBA regular super-middleweight champion Rocky Fielding of the UK in New York in December.

London 2012 Olympic champion Murata suffered his only loss to N’Dam by split decision in May 2017 but won the rematch five months later to claim the crown.

Brant, 23-1 with 16 knockouts, suffered his only loss last October to Germany’s two-time light-heavyweight world champion Jürgen Brähmer by unanimous decision. He bounced back with a first-round knockout of compatriot Colby Courter in March.

“I’m very excited,” Brant said. This fight has been on my mind since before he fought Hassan N’Dam. Though I respect all his accomplishments, I’ve 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. This means the world to me.”

Another middleweight title will be decided on Saturday in Boston when American Demetrius Andrade faces Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant World Boxing Organization title.