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Murata learning lessons as pro

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Ryota Murata learned many valuable lessons from the second professional fight of his career on Friday in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old finished Dave Peterson, of the United States, with an eighth-round technical knockout to win in front of the large crowd that gathered at Ryogoku Kokugikan to see the London Olympic middleweight gold medalist.

Because his pro debut was so remarkable (he won via a second-round TKO), many observers expected a similarly overwhelming victory, but Murata’s second opponent was a lot tougher to put away.

Murata was stiff early and wasn’t able to throw his jab effectively enough to keep Peterson at a manageable distance, which limited Murata’s options offensively.

In fact, Murata remembered that he’d been on the losing side during his amateur days when he didn’t have his jab.

“Not having jabs and just going forward tightly guarding myself . . . that was the pattern I would lose (with) when I was in amateur boxing, and I almost did that (today),” Murata said after his match on Friday.

Murata showed a few defensive liabilities as well.

Peterson rushed Murata in the fourth and some of the American’s overhand rights seemed to be a bit dangerous.

Murata survived by covering his head with his arms, but he knew it could’ve been a different story against a world champion boxer.

“I would’ve been knocked out had it been (Gennady) Golovkin,” Murata said of the WBA middleweight champion, who’s 28-0 with 25 KOs in his professional career. “So if I’m to aim at a higher place, I shouldn’t make a situation like that.”

At the end of the day, everything, good or bad, is a learning process for Murata. There were even things to glean from his struggles against Peterson.

Murata mentioned Peterson being so pliant with his head moves to absorb the damage from his punches.

That might’ve been something Murata had not really known before turning pro because head gear is used in amateur fights.

Akihiko Honda, president of Teiken Promotion, which helps take care of making matches for Murata alongside Top Rank, said Murata wasn’t as sharp as in his first pro bout, but wound up gaining precious experience against the durable Peterson.

Honda insisted that a boxer learns a lot more from a real match than in practice or by sparring.

That said, it’s significant for Murata to already have had a pair of fights under his belt.

“I’d say, (Murata) earned the experience of about a pair of matches (through the Peterson bout),” Honda said. “I think he fought against a very good opponent.”

Next up, Murata’s likely to have his first bout overseas in Macau in late February. That will be another tough fight for him, but he’s looking forward to it with a positive mind-set.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can to prepare for that event,” he said with a smile.”