For today's Closet Classic we're going to be doing something a little bit different as we look at an amateur fight. For those who don't follow amateur boxing this will be something a little bit different, whilst those who follow amateur boxing will know what an incredible was this bout was, and why it is worth time, of any fan, to watch.
Ryota Murata Vs Ievgen Khytrov
As we write this, with Coronavirus essentially putting sport on ice in mid March 2020, Ryota Murata is the WBA Middleweight champion, one of the major faces of Japanese boxing and one of the most fun to watch fighters out there. Sure Murata might not be technical genius but the tough, powerful and physically imposing Japanese fighter is always a fun go to watch, with his pressure style guaranteeing action, no matter what. For fans who have followed him since he turned professional his technical flaws have been evident, but yet he was still a solid amateur, with big power and an exciting power-based style. At the 2011 World Amateur Championships he was a dark horse who had made his was to the final with a string of solid wins, stopping Abbos Atoev and beating Stefan Haertel, Darren O'Neill and Esquiva Falcao.
Highly established Ukrainian amateur Ievgen Khytrov went in to the tournament as an outsider himself. Although more established on the international scene than Murata he wasn't seen as one of the top 8 seeds. He had looked good in the tournaments earlier in the year and had reached the final thanks to wins over the likes of Nursahat Pazzyyev, Aleksandar Drenovak and Bogdan Juratoni. He was part of a very strong emerging Ukrainian team and whilst not regarded as one of the absolute sensations of the team, such as Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk who were both seeds, he was still seen as one to watch following a win over Abbos Atoev at a tournament just a few weeks earlier. Like Murata he was seen as an aggressive, exciting fighter, but he was more polished and set a brilliantly high work rate.
From the opening moments it was clear that we were set for something special as the two men met head to head in the center of the ring and began to let their shots go. It was clear that Khytrov was the more natural boxer, and the more active, but Murata was looking to make his physical strength pay as he applied some basic but strong pressure. The bout continued to be a thrilling toe to two battle from the opening bell right through, with Murata trying to land his booming right hand whilst Khytrov out worked and outshined Murata with his crisp punching and smart footwork.
For those who think amateur fights are all touchy, tappy stuff this is something totally different and something well and truly worth a watch.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features