By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), 160, successfully made his first defense when he kept stalking fleet-footed Italian Emanuele Blandamura (27-3, 5 KOs), 159.5, finally caught up with him and dropped him with an overhand right to prompt the referee’s intervention at 2:56 of the eighth round on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan.
Murata, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, took the pace from the start and kept on throwing stinging lefts to the elusive challenger. The champ, six years his junior at 32, steadily piled up points as he remained aggressive to the circling Italian who occasionally jabbed and threw light but fast rights.
The sixth saw Murata accelerate his attacks to force Blandamura to the ropes with a flurry of punches, but the Italian barely had a narrow escape with his defensive skills. Ryota, however, finally caught Emanuele with a vicious right, decking him on the knees in the closing seconds of the fatal eighth. The referee Raul Caiz Jr. wisely saw him unfit to go on and declared a well-received halt before well-packed 11,000 spectators at the Yokohama Arena.
Prior to the spectacular stoppage, Robert Hoyle (US) saw it 70-63, Carlos Sucre (US) tallied 68-65 and Alfredo Polanco (Mexico) had it 69-64, all for the defending champ.
Murata jubilantly said, “People say it’s hard to make the first defense, but I could pass the initial hurdle with pleasure. My target is to fight GGG Golovkin in a unification bout. With that dream, I’ll continue my efforts to realize it in the future.”
The good loser gloomily said, “Murata’s right hand was as strong as I had expected. I realized that he could become the champion with his powerful right hand. I admit his power.”
According to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Murata’s next will take place in Las Vegas this fall.
WBA supervisor: George Martinez (Canada).
Promoter: Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions.