/

Murata ready to face challenge overseas for first time as pro

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

As has been speculated, Ryota Murata is officially in the big show in Macau on Feb. 22 as he entered his second year as a professional boxer.

His promotion side revealed that it is negotiating with Carlos Nascimento to be Murata’s opponent in the event, which will be held at the Venetian Macau Hotel. Though the Brazilian is 40 years old, he has a 29-3 record (23 KOs), including a loss in his WBO light middleweight world title challenge against Serhiy Dzinziruk of Ukraine in 2007.

“He clearly has the better track record than me,” Murata said of Nascimento at Tokyo’s Teiken Gym on Friday. “So I’d like to go up against him as a challenger.”

After a pair of domestic fights, Murata, the 2012 London Olympic middleweight gold medalist, will clinb into a foreign ring as a pro for the first time. The Macau show is dubbed “Ring of Gold,” which is scheduled to feature matches of other gold medalists from the London Games, Zhou Shiming (flyweight) and Egor Mekhontsev (light heavyweight), while IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez will have a title bout on the main card.

The event, organized by Top Rank, will be aired worldwide, including by HBO in the United States.

Murata said that he doesn’t have any worries about fighting abroad, which will be the first time for him since the London Olympics, because he’d done that numerous times as an amateur boxer. He added that he looked forward to the opportunity because his fight would be seen all over the world.

But of course, Murata’s not headed to Macau for leisure. Acknowledging Nascimento is a tough opponent, Murata is highly motivated to put up an entertaining, quality victory as a professional athlete.

“Although I’m not going to aim at a KO win, it’d be ideal to win with a KO in the end,” said Murata, who had TKO wins in his first two pro fights. “So I can prove that Murata can do this much while I want to convince myself that I can do this much.”

Murata said that he’s not really the kind of a person that looks back in the past, but learned valuable lessons in his previous bouts. Especially in the second fight, when he had tough time winning against Dave Peterson last month.

“He debuted magnificently (with a second-round win over Akio Shibata) and struggled in the next,” Teiken Promotion president Tsuyoshi Hamada, a former WBC junior welterweight champion, said of Murata. “But he’s still made bigger growth than we expected. I’m sure these two fights became great experience for him and the one year ended up valuing like two or three years.”

Murata, who will turn 28 on Sunday, insisted that he was not necessarily young so he wanted to gain as much experience through real fights as possible. He said that he hoped to have about four bouts in 2014.

Murata will soon leave for Las Vegas to hold a monthlong training camp for the Macau fight.