October 22nd, 2017. Ryota Murata forced Hassan N’Dam to quit on his stool at the end of round seven in their rematch for the WBA middleweight regular crown. Murata looked bigger going into the fight and his low-volume high-power approach was too much for his Cameroonian-French opponent to endure. N’Dam struggled to keep balance and fend of the big-punching Murata, a pattern that reappeared from their first match earlier in the year.
Murata landed the clearer shots but more significantly the harder ones. N’Dam’s movement didn’t trouble Murata as much as it did the first time they fought due to the Japanese closing the ring down better and throwing quicker and crisper shots than in the first outing.
After the fight, the new champion spoke of how he is aware of the other competition in the middleweight division but wants to take up the challenge. This follows Bob Arum’s remarks about wanting to take Murata to the US for bigger fights. He also added that for many people outside his native Japan, such as boxing’s primary market, the US, fighters and fight fans will still have a relatively low opinion of him and that is something he wants to change.
For N’Dam on the other hand, it is unclear which direction he will go in from here as, despite the records telling a different story, this was his second consecutive defeat as the first fight he won in highly controversial fashion. In the post-fight press conference, N’Dam came over to congratulate Murata during which he mentioned the possibility of a trilogy happening but it would seem unlikely Murata would take that fight considering the expectations of his management, promoters, and fans.
Murata himself looked confident and calm in the ring and had a similar composition after the fight. As a general election was held in Japan today, I asked Murata if he would take a leaf out of Manny Pacquiao’s book and turn to politics one day. Murata returned the comment firstly with a laugh before replying, ‘the one thing I want to have in common with Manny Pacquiao is to be able to make $100 million in one fight’.
If Ryota can keep the momentum going, that reality may not be as distant a dream as it currently seems.
There were two other world championship fights taking place on the night in which both Champions Ken Shiro and Daigo Higa retained their WBC light flyweight and WBC flyweight titles respectively.
Photo Credit: Rishad Marquardt