The former Japanese champion moved up in weight, shaking the shackles of the Flyweight division, to face off against the limited but experienced Shun Ishibashi (10-19-1, 4) [石橋 俊], who was fighting for the 30th time as a professional.
Prior to his suspension Muranaka had looked like a possible world champion. He had shown the ability to box, brawl and fight and had looked like a sharp fighter. Today however he looked sloppy from the off. It was clear that ring rust was effecting him and it was helping Ishibashi land his jab, almost at will.
By round 4 that rust was starting to be shed and Muranaka was showing some touches of his world class ability as his offensives started to come alive, and his shots started to take their toll on Ishibashi who was visibly swelling around the face.
In round 6 Muranaka let his shots fly and forced the referee to save Ishibashi, who was beginning to take a bit of a beating with Muranaka getting better as the fight went on.
Following the win Muranaka admitted that he wasn't his usual self, accepted responsibility for the suspension that he's suffered and admitted that his future probably lies at Super Flyweight, where he will certainly be an exciting addition, and adds his name to a list of very good Japanese fighters at 115lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)