Ryota Murata to defend WBA "regular" title against Steven Butler in December, Fuji to stack the show
According to multiple reputable sources a deal is now close to being done for WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] to defend his belt against once beaten Canadian Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24).
The story has been doing the rounds for a week or two now, and now appears to have moved from talks to being pretty much complete, in what will be the headline bout for Fuji TV's final card of 2019.
At the moment it appears the date will be much earlier in the year than previous Fuji year enders, with a pre-Christmas date being rumoured for the bout, though official announcements will be made in the near future confirming the date and venue.
Murata, a 2-time champion, won this belt back when he beat Rob Bran by TKO in the summer. He looked like he had found a new gear in his pressure in that win after looking 1-paced and fundamentally slow in his loss to Brant in 2018. The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner is clearly eyeing up bigger fights in 2020 and the ling rumoured fight with Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin's (40-1-1, 35) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] is again doing the rounds in the Japanese press, for next year. Sadly we've long heard about Murata's chase for Golovkin and nothing has materialised so if that bout doesn't take place we would be disappointed but not surprised.
The 24 year old Butler was a solid amateur with a 50-5 record, of course that doesn't compare to Murata and his Olympic gold medal but still solid. He turned professional in 2014 and like many prospects he was super active early on with 9 bouts in his first 9 months as a professional. By the end of 2016 he was 18-0-1 (15) but would lose in January 2017 to Brandon Cook, who is best known for losses to Jaime Munguia and Kanat Islam. Since that loss he has bounced back with 12 wins and was tipped to to be Demetrius Andrade's next opponent.
At the moment the deal is being finalised though it's expected that Teiken will hold a press conference in the next 10 days to announce the bout. The shame show is also expected to featured WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] and the return to the ring for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] and could feature 1 other noteworthy bout as Fuji look to end the year in style.
We know we've been a bit slow on this one!
Last week we reported that former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] had requested that the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) consider lifting his suspension, after close to 18 months. Before it could be lifted however there had to be a hearing and official decisions made regarding any decision.
Today that hearing took place, and as widely assumed, the suspension of Higa's JBC licenses has been lifted, leaving the door open to the aggressive and exciting former world champion to return to the ring.
Higa was hit with an indefinite suspension to his license following his his bout with Cristofer Rosales, which had seen Higa fail to make weight and lose the world title on the scales. It was the first time a Japanese fighter had ever lost a world title in such a manner, and the JBC, who had seen a spate of weight failures on the domestic scene, had seemingly had enough making an example of Higa as a way to try and prevent other fighters from missing weight going forward.
At the hearing today Higa revealed he had been training for the last 6 months, and had typically been doing so for 6 days a week, to get in and remain in fighting shape.
Going forward, at least in the immediate future, Higa will not be allowed to fight at a lower weight than Bantamweight due to the issues he had at Flyweight, but is welcome to return to the ring, and is eyeing a bout before the end of the year.
At the moment it's unclear on the when, where and who against, but it's likely he will continue his affiliation with Fuji TV, and if, or when, he returns to world level it's almost certain that Fuji TV will be showing his world title bouts. With that in mind there's a good chance his return may be tucked away on the non-televised part of their yet to be announced late December card.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the most often asked questions we get on social media is "when is Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] going to fight again?" And sadly the reality is that no one is 100% sure, as he is still, technically, suspended by the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC). Today however news has broke that things may be set to change.
According to Japanese sources Higa, along with manager Yoko Gushiken, applied to the JBC to have his suspension lifted, and there is now time set aside next week for an ethics committee to discuss Higa's suspension, and his return to the ring.
Higa has been suspended by the JBC since failing to make weight for a WBC Flyweight world title defense against Cristofer Rosales. Higa was stripped of the title on the scales, and looked a shell of his usual self in the ring, before being stopped in the 9th round.
The sources in Japan have stated that Higa has been training regularly for the last 6 months or so, and will follow the conditions set for his return when he originally suspended, including fighting at a higher weight and having regular reports on his condition.
Although of course he will need to be given the green light officially next week, sources have started that he is likely to be allowed to return to action before the end of 2019, and could well have his return to action included on a year ending card.
Back in April Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] suffered his first professional loss, as he was stopped against Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales, prior to which he had been stripped of the WBC Flyweight title for failing to make weight.
By being stripped on the scales Higa became the first ever Japanese fighter to lose a world title in that fashion. Soon afterwards Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC), who had felt the need to make a statement following a number of fighters failing to make weight in the country.
Higa hasn't been given a life time ban, but has been given a ban that will only end when he meets several conditions to the JBC.
Recent reports from Japan however make it seem like he's in no rush to fight again, with the Japanese Daily Sport website quoting Higa as saying "I have not decided anything yet, I am not thinking" in regards to his future. It's also been reported that he hasn't began training full time yet and it does seem like boxing isn't at the front of his mind right now, instead his social media seems to be focused on relaxing and living a fun life, something we can't blame him for.
We'll admit we do look forward to Higa hopefully returning to the ring, but there's certainly no rush to have the youngster return and the fighter "enjoying" his suspension may not be the worst thing for him if he does return to the ring.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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