By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Japanese national hero and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) forfeited his WBA middleweight belt to Rob Brant (25-1, 17 KOs) in Las Vegas last October. It is a fact. Murata will face Brant in a grudge fight on this coming Friday in Osaka, Japan. It is a schedule. Ryota will regain the title from Rob to reinstate his reign. It is an expectation.
Team Brant, accompanied by his trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, arrived here in Tokyo so early as two weeks before the rematch at the Edion Arena, Osaka, the second biggest prefecture (8.8 million people) next to Tokyo (13 million). Murata and Brant have been training at the same Teiken Gym at a different time, and they are reportedly in good shape after their final workouts.
Murata, at the public training before press people on July 3, confidently said, “I strongly wish to avenge my last defeat. I’ll hit hard to regain my belt.” Brant, on the next day, showed his workout and displayed his well-prepared condition, saying, “Murata will be more aggressive than in our first encounter, but I prepare my game plan to cope with him and it’ll be hard to catch up with me.”
Murata was born in Nara, some one hour from Osaka, although he now resides in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and a great many people will come and see him exchange gloves with the speed and shifty champ Brant. It might be true that Ryota fought on a wrong strategy, losing a very unanimous nod (119-109 twice, 118-110), and he will try to mix it up from the outset to make good use of his superior physical power as well as punching power to take the initiative and overwhelm his previous conqueror.
If successful, Ryota will have the upper hand and pile up points en route to his reinstatement, but if not, Rob will demonstrate his superior hand speed, shifty mobility and better defense to his successful defense at Murata’s home turf. Time will tell.