With all the disappointment surrounding the scuttled rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, it would seem the middleweight division is a frozen wasteland: so much talent, so many excellent fighters, but so few tantalizing match-ups on the horizon. But maybe that isn’t so. This weekend sees one of the division’s premier fighters back in action, that being Japan’s Ryota Murata, Olympic gold medalist and current holder of the WBA title belt.
Currently, Murata is generally regarded as a lower-tier talent in the middleweight division, below Jacobs, Charlo, Lemieux and Derevyanchenko, but above O’Sullivan, Monroe or Centeno Jr. But are we underestimating him? The talent and natural gifts are there and Hassan N’Dam, the man he defeated (twice, unofficially) for his title strap, whatever its relative worth, is a battle-tested contender and former belt-holder. Maybe all Murata really needs is a shot at one of the proven elite fighters in the division to show he belongs in the conversation with the top fighters at 160. Here’s hoping that happens soon.
On Sunday he defends his championship against Emanuele Blandamura in Yokohama and while he is clearly favoured to prevail, it’s a potentially competitive match as well as a major step forward in Murata’s quest to raise his profile. An impressive win could help get Murata the attention he’s looking for as Sunday’s match will be broadcast to fight fans on the other side of the globe via ESPN. For many fight fans, this may be the first time they see Murata in action.
Our friends at Boxcaster are keenly interested in this match-up, so let them get you hyped for a major middleweight bout that doesn’t come close to making up for all the Canelo-GGG mamadas, but should at least help you forget about them for a short while. Check it out: