October 20th, 2017. The WBA regular middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam and number one contender Ryota Murata signed their official fight contract today at the Hotel Grand Palace ahead of their rematch taking place at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday.
Today’s event was kicked off by Bob Arum who first and foremost wanted to thank Japan for sending over Masahiro Tanaka to his beloved New York Yankees and for his outstanding performance in their recent ALCS Game 5 victory. But Arum hadn’t flown half way round the world to humbly issue a statement of gratitude as a baseball fan. He was here to promote Ryota Murata, who is part of Japan’s legendary Teiken boxing gym as he expects Murata to make waves in the US after he gets past N’Dam in this all important rematch. Arum said ‘the challenger [Murata] brings with him a distinguished record having won an Olympic gold medal in the middleweight division in London in 2012’. Arum, who’s Top Rank signed another gold medalist from London 2012 – Vasyl Lomachenko, said that from the time they signed Murata, he was convinced the Japanese fighter would make a huge impact in the sport of boxing.
Murata is still very early into his professional career as a boxer but at the age of 31, doesn’t have a lot of time to live up to these expectations. His 13th and latest fight against N’Dam was a fight he controversially lost to on a split decision earlier in the year and has meant the rematch on Sunday is a must win for the Japanese.
When I asked Arum how well he thought Murata would be able fare against the likes of Gennady Golovkin (WBA Super, WBC, IBF), Billy J. Saunders (WBO), and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (The Ring), the other middleweight champions, he was confident in Murata’s ability. ‘I have always believed that when Murata got the experience and therefore the confidence, he could handle anybody in the middleweight division. He’s a very big middleweight, a tall and rangy guy, and those kind of guys in the middleweight division have always risen to the fore like Carlos Monzon, so I have high hopes for Murata and can’t wait to get him started fighting in big fights on big platforms in the States’.
The fight will take place at 7PM (Japan time) on Sunday, October 22 before the Saturday weigh-in, and will be aired live on ESPN in the US.
Photo Credit: Rishad Marquardt