Murata to face Blandamura next?

By Marco Bratusch

According to multiple sources from Italy, WBA “regular” middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10 KOs), from Japan, is rumored to take on former European champion Emanuele “Sioux” Blandamura (27-2, 5 KOs) in a voluntary defense of his belt. The bout would be promoted by Top Rank, which manages Murata since day one when he turned pro after winning a gold medal at London 2012 Olympics, on a date yet to be determined that might be set around mid April in Japan. The hard-hitting Murata, aged 32, suffered a higly debatable loss on points in the early part of 2017 when he took on veteran stylist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.

WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza ordered an immediate rematch for this bout and suspended two judges for six months because of that inexplicable decision. Nevertheless, Murata avenged the loss completely, making things clear as he stopped N’Jikam two months ago in Kokugikan, Japan.

The 38-year-old Blandamura, a fit and seriously minded prizefighter, has lost only twice in ten years of career when he faced world-class opponents like Billy Joe Saunders and Michel Soro, each time for the vacant European belt. A quick-handed boxer who lacks the remarkable power to compete at higher levels, the Italian went on eventually grabbing the EBU belt in December 2016 and defended it once. Now ranked #10 by the WBA, he was scheduled to fight against mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta at the end of January in Rome, Italy, in a OPI Since 82 promoted card, but the sudden pulling out of the contest without a sustained injury few days ago made the alarms sound that something bigger was going on, something like a world title shot.

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