People who follow our Closet Classic series will know we love a good rematch, and a number of the bouts featured in that series are brilliant rematches that see fighters who had a great first bout go on to have a great second bout. Of course not all rematches are greats fights and not all bouts that get rematches were originally great. Here we look at a rematch that took place last year. Whilst not an amazing bout it was short, action packed, and well worthy of a watch.
Ryota Murata (14-2, 11) Vs Rob Brant (25-1, 17) II
In 2018 we saw Ryota Murata lose the WBA Middleweight title in rather embarrassing fashion as he was easily out boxed, out fought and out worked by Rob Brant. In July 2019 they faced off again. This time Murata was out for revenge in an attempt to recapture the title.
Murata had been a Japanese star since the 2012 Olympics, where he won the gold medal. He had been groomed for professional stardom, but had put in some mixed performances during his 16 fight pro-career. At his best he was an aggressive brute, with huge power, an iron chin and an impressive will to win, with under-rated hand speed and scary physical strength. He was a bit rigid but regularly fought to his his strengths with intense pressure. When he struggled to get opponents to back up however he typically looked poor, due to his slow feet and need to set himself before letting shots go. If he couldn't cut the ring off he could be beat, as we saw in the bout with Brant.
American fighter Rob Brant wasn't the number one choice for Murata's 2018 title defense. In fact the bout was essentially forced on Murata as a mandatory by the WBA and it seems like this played a part in Murata over-looking the American. The reality is that there was little on his record to scream world title challenger. He had no wins of note prior to facing Murata in October 2018, and had lost his notable bout to that point, being easily outboxed by crafty German veteran Juergen Braehmer. Despite being unheralded before beating Murata the American had shown what he could do in the first Murata bout, and it seemed logical that his style was always going to be a nightmare for Murata. He had quicker feet and quicker hands than the Japanese fighter, and was a more athletic talent than the strong, but rather rigid, Murata.
From the very start it was it was clear that Brant felt full of confidence, like his previous win over Murata was going to be repeated again here. He was on the move, letting his hands go and fighting in a similar style to the one which had seen him easily beat the Japanese fighter in their first clash. Murata on the other hand looked like he was more intense, applying more pressure and finding gaps to lands his shots in. He was going to the body with success, and was looking more active and hungrier than he had in their first bout. Brant was still busier, but Brant was being forced to work, rather than choosing when to work.
What's forgotten now is just how great the first round of this bout was. It set the stage for an equally fantastic second round as the two men continued to let leather fly.
Whilst the bout wasn't a long one it was short, thrilling and action packed, with a lot of heavy leather being thrown.
If you saw this originally it's worth reliving again now. If you missed it's worth a watch and was a very short bout full of big shots from two men each fighting like they had a point to prove. It wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it's a bout that was a lot better than we were expecting, very exciting, and full of explosive shots. A very intense but short thrilling war
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.