When Robert Brant wrested a secondary middleweight world title from Japanese star Ryota Murata in October, he did so in Las Vegas, where he trains and spends a lot of time. Now he is headed to Murata's turf for the rematch.
Both fighters were on hand as the sequel was announced at a news conference on Thursday morning in Tokyo. The bout will take place on July 12 at Edion Arena Osaka in Osaka, Japan. It will be broadcast live in the morning hours in the United States on an ESPN platform to be determined as part of the network's deal with Top Rank, the co-promoter of both fighters.
Brant threw 1,262 punches, the second-most ever recorded by CompuBox in a middleweight fight, in a dominating performance when he met Murata at the Park Theater in Las Vegas and claimed the 160-pound belt. Murata had no answers for Brant's all-out aggressive assault that led him to victory by scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110.
It was such a one-sided fight that Murata at first declined his contractual option for an immediate rematch, though when he reconsidered and wanted the sequel the sides worked it out because it would be by far the most lucrative makeable fight for either man right now.
Murata has not boxed since the loss, while Brant defended the belt with an 11th-round knockout of Khasan Baysangurov on Feb. 15 in Hinckley, Minnesota, a homecoming fight for the St. Paul, Minnesota, native at a venue he had fought at numerous times.
Now Brant (25-1, 17 KOs), 28, who lives in Dallas, is headed overseas for the second time as a professional. The first time resulted in a one-sided, 12-round decision loss to Juergen Braehmer in a super middleweight fight in the World Boxing Super Series tournament in October 2017.
Brant has won three fights in a row since and said he has no problem going on the road for the rematch with Murata.
"I am very excited to be defending my title in Japan against Ryota Murata. Ever since I beat him for the belt, I have always known this fight was on the horizon," Brant said. "I feel Murata is only at his full potential while in front of his people. This fight is me showing the world that I can bring my full potential with me wherever I go."
Said Greg Cohen, Brant's co-promoter: "There is no doubt that the rematch with Murata will be a terrific fight filled with tension, excitement and anticipation in front of the supportive Japanese crowd. We expect Rob to perform even better the second time around and look forward to another impressive performance. It certainly won't be easy, but we are confident that the cream will once again rise to the top."
Murata (14-2, 11 KOs), 33, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and one of the most popular athletes in Japan, never made any excuses for the loss but is anxious for his second crack at Brant.
"Rob Brant beat me fair and square, but I am ready to get revenge," Murata said. "I want to show everyone the real Ryota Murata and regain my world title in spectacular fashion. I took some time off after my last fight, but I never lost my fighting desire. In fact, I am more motivated than ever."