London Olympic middleweight champion Murata to join Top Rank


London Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata will sign a contract with major U.S. boxing promotion company Top Rank, his promoter Teiken Promotions said Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Murata, who became Japan’s first Olympic boxing champion in 48 years last summer at the London Games before recently turning pro, will give a news conference next Monday in Los Angeles. The Nara Prefecture native plans to train in Las Vegas until the end of June.

Murata is hoping to make his pro debut near the end of August or early September at a venue in Japan.

“There’s a mutual merit for us,” said Teiken Gym President Akihiko Honda. “We would like to have Top Rank cooperate with arranging fights for him, and hopefully he’ll become a promising talent for them as well.”

Known worldwide, Top Rank, run by Bob Arum, has promoted such world class fighters as former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in years past, and more recently fighting greats such as Manny Pacquiao and undefeated WBC champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Murata’s 14-13 victory over Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao last August made him the 100th gold medal winner in Japanese Olympic history with the first boxing gold for Japan since Takao Sakurai won bantamweight gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
The victory by Murata, 27, produced the first boxing medal for Japan outside the bantamweight or flyweight classes. He also finished second in the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku.