By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Newly crowned WBA middleweight champ Ryota Murata (13-1, 10 KOs), also 2012 Olympic gold medalist in London, will make his initial defense against Italian Emanuele Felice Blandamura (27-2, 5 KOs), former European titlist, in Yokohama, Japan, on April 15.
It was announced with both contestants in attendance today (Monday) in Tokyo by Teiken Promotions. Murata dethroned Frenchman Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam via a fine stoppage at the end of the seventh round in their grudge fight here last October. Blandamura, six years his senior at 38, was previously halted by Billy Joe Saunders with the European belt at stake in 2014, but recently acquired the vacant EBU 160-pound belt by a split duke over Matteo Signani in 2016 and kept it once against Alessandro Goddi in Italy last June. Murata said, “I’ll devote all myself to the first defense to concentrate on this fight.” Blandamura jubilantly said, “Today is the happiest day of my life. I’m happy to fight Murata for the world championship.” We may witness a full-house crowd at the Yokohama Arena.