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Murata growing in confidence, improving overall boxing skills

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

With only 10 days until his third professional fight, former Olympic boxing champion Ryota Murata showed no signs of jitters. But he demonstrated his developing confidence.

Murata, who just returned from a monthlong training camp in Las Vegas, said Wednesday that he had a good opportunity to work on his skills overseas.

“The past month was a very good time,” said Murata, who will take on Brazil’s former WBO world-title contender Carlos Nascimento in a Top Rank-organized show in Macau on Feb. 22. “My confidence level is as high as ever.”

Murata said that he sparred 62 rounds at the Top Rank gym in Nevada. Although he’s still developing, he insisted that he’s got to be able to do what he could not do previously during training camp.

“I feel like I got to get a better knack for landing my punches and avoiding taking punches from opponents,” Murata said at Tokyo’s Teiken Gym.

The 28-year-old fighter, who grabbed the middleweight gold medal at the London Olympics two years ago, added that he’s now better at using his body more flexibly so he can give his opponents a hard time landing their shots.

“You can’t just defend yourself by just guarding like amateur boxers,” he said. “But I’ve been able to overcome the issue. Now I have to see how much I can do this in an actual fight.”

Mike Jones, an American boxer and one of the three sparring partners for Murata since the training camp in the U.S., said that Murata polished his techniques the more they traded punches.

“He’s moving his head a lot better,” said Jones, a former IBF world title contender, after a three-round sparring session with Murata. “It’s not just, ‘I hit you,’ but he’s moving a lot. He’s using the whole ring.”

Murata said that because he’s now able to move better, he’s improved his jabbing, which has been one of his biggest problems.

Murata is also showing more faith in his own stamina. Asked if he’d expect a long bout with Nascimento, Murata said that he would not mind that scenario.

“I don’t want a decision, though,” he said with a laugh. “I know I’m expected to have knockout wins, but I’m confident whether it’s a longer fight.”

The Nascimento bout, which will be an eight-round fight, will be the first pro match that’s held outside of Japan for Murata, who’s posted a perfect 2-0 record in the pro ring.