Earlier today we reported a world title triple header from Japan, here we're going to take a real looking into the main event of that card, the relatively well spoke about match up between WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] to and Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24).
For Murata the bout will be his first defense since reclaiming the title earlier this year from Rob Brant. It was first assumed that Brant would make the most of his rematch clause and get this bout, though it appears he has decided to not immediately enact the rematch, allowing for Murata to select a different opponent. Originally it seemed like that was going to be former Welterweight title holder Jeff Horn, but Horn suffered an upset loss to Michael Zerafa earlier this year taking him out of the picture.
As a result Murata's team made an offer to Butler, who had been the mandatory for WBO champion Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17). Butler's team selected the Japanese option a few weeks ago and a deal was signed recently for this Japanese data with the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner.
At today's press conference Murata stated “I will do my best.... Butler was also the first-placed challenger in WBO, and I think it will improve my reputation by beating him. It will be a good match. I have an interesting fight. ” (Loosely translated from Japanese)
It seems the longer term plan does still include a huge bout in 2020 for Murata, and that this bout is being used as a chance to see his profile internationally on a broadcast that will be on Fuji TV in Japan and is likely to be aired in the US on ESPN+, as Murata continues his relationship with Top Rank.
Butler, for those who haven't seen him, is a capable bover-puncher who has beaten some notable names, such as Carson Jones, Vitalii Kopylenko and Lanardo Tyner. Notably he lost in 2017 to fellow Canadian Brandon Cook, in a bout that was marred by ugly post-fight scenes and does appear to be more of a Light Middleweight come Middleweight, rather than a natural Middleweight. Still he's very talented and heavy handed.
For more details on the triple header please take a look here Triple header announced! Murata Vs Butler, Kenshiro Vs Alvarado and Mthalane Vs Yaegashi
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After weeks of rumour and speculation we finally got the announcement of Fuji's huge end of year card today. And it was much bigger and more exciting than any of us had anticipated.
As had been previously reported the card will take place on December 23rd in Japan will not only feature one world title bout, but 3! Including an amazing world title eliminator and a chance for a modern legend to get one final big win, before potentially ending his career. It also leaves the door open to a notable under-card return.
The one bout that was well known about before hand was the WBA "regular" Middleweight championship bout between Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] to and once beaten Canadian Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24). This was announced as the show's main event and will see Murata make his first defense of his second reign in what looks like an excellent match up on paper. Butler might not be a huge name, but as a match up on paper this should sell it's self.
The legend in action is former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16) [八重樫 東]. The hugely popular Yaegashi had been public about hoping to get a Super Flyweight world title bout. He's failed to do that, but he has managed to land a different world title bout, as he shares the ring with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an attempt to become a 2-time Flyweight champion. For Mthalane this will be his third successive bout against a Japanese opponent following wins over Masahiro Sakamoto, on December 31st last year, and Masayuki Kuroda, earlier this year.
The third of the world title bouts, and the one we are the most excited about, will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] defending his title in a unification bout with IBF champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30). Through the year we have seen Kenshiro and WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi both speak about unification bouts, to see one of the two men landing a bout at this level is great, even better when it features a high risk and power punching fighter like Alvarado. This bout really will strengthen the winner's claim the be #1 in the division and will be Alvarado's second successive bout against a Japanese fighter following a win earlier this year against Reiya Konishi.
Although not announced this is also expected to be the show where we will see the return of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾], with an announcement about that set to come later this year!
For those wanting to attend the event it will take place at the Yokohama Arena.
Fuji are ending the year big, and by big we mean huge with this amazing show, and without a doubt a contender for card of the year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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!
In July we saw Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] become a 2-time WBA "regular" Middleweight champion, as he stopped Rob Brant (25-2, 17) to avenge his 2018 loss. Today Murata returned to the gym for the first time and began practising once again.
Prior to the training session, which was done for the press, Murata held a press conference alongside Teiken representative, and former world champion, Tsuyoshi Hamada.
At the press conference Murata stated that he wants his next fight to come against someone that the fans want to see, rather than another low key opponent. He added that he was in great condition for the Brant rematch, and entered full of confidence. It seems like that confidence was still with him, and Mr Hamada, today.
Hamada named dropped both Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin as the two opponents he thinks would be good opponents for Murata. These are both fighters that would interest both domestic fans and international fans, though it should be noted that Murata has long spoke about Golovkin in the Japanese press and nothing has come of it. Currently there would be major issues with US TV issue for either bout, with both Canelo and Golovkin being affiliated with DAZN in the US whilst Murata is a Top Rank fighter fighting on ESPN.
Not only did Hamada mention Canelo and Golovkin as possible oppoennts but Murata echoed the comments, stating that he wants to fight either of them, adding that he wants to make the sport more exciting. Sadly though with the plan being to fight later this year, it does seem like Murata will have a lower key fight before talks of a major fight can be taken serious.
After the press conference the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner took part in some training with Carlos Linares. The training saw him have 2 rounds of shadow boxing, before working the mitts with Linares and looking powerful and sharp. It was clear he wasn't going all out, but looked good for a man who has been on holiday recently, and hasn't actively trained since the Brant rematch.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last Friday Fuji TV, and affiliate Kansai TV, showed a world title double header. The card saw Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] reclaim the WBA "regular" Middleweight title, as he stopped Rob Brant (25-2, 17) in 2 rounds, and also saw WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] stop mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22).
Following those bouts there was a rather long wait for the TV numbers to be released, with that wait ending today. And boy were the numbers impressive!
Kenshiro, who has often missed out on live TV chances with Fuji, drew an average audience of 8.4%, a huge number for a guy that had been so over-looked.
Despite the Light Flyweight champion doing impressive numbers his fight was dwarfed by Murata, who averaged 11.9% in the Kanto region and 12.9% in the Kansai region, and peaked at 14.9% in Kanto and 20.8% in Kansai.
Whilst transferring the % to raw numbers isn't totally accurate it does give us some us fairly rough numbers to be blown away by.
The rough average is a little over 7,000,000 people watching Murata, with a peak of around 11,000,000. A figure that is frankly staggering for a fight, though may end up paving the way for more bouts in Japan to take place on a Friday.
Taro Takeuchi, a producer at Fuji TV, praised the numbers and Murata and made it clear that boxing was getting great figures on Fuji TV, and it seems clear that they are expecting the numbers to continue to grow.
Of course it's not only Murata and Kenshiro who are big names affiliated with the channel, with Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] also fighting on the channel, and his WBSS final with Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26) will expected to do incredible numbers of Fuji later int he year.
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