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Murata scheduled to fight Mexican Luna on Sept. 5

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Middleweight boxer Ryota Murata will square off against Mexico’s Adrian Luna on Sept. 5 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 in his fifth professional fight, his management team, Teiken Promotions, announced on Thursday.

Japanese world champions Akira Yaegashi and Naoya Inoue were previously scheduled to make title defenses on that day. The London Olympic gold medalist’s bout against Luna has been added to the card.

The 24-year-old Luna currently holds the WBC Mexican middleweight champion belt, and has posted a 17-2-1 career record (11 knockouts). Luna, nicknamed “Tyson,” is 22nd on the WBC’s world rankings list.

“He’s the current Mexican champion and I believe he’s tough,” Murata said at a Tokyo news conference. “But he’s not an opponent that I’ll stumble over.”

Murata, 28, held a two-week training camp in Big Bear, California, earlier this month. He thoroughly trained with WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin there.

Murata, who’s 4-0 as a pro, insisted that it was an eye-opening experience for him to train with the Kazakh and was inspired by his work ethic.

“He was training really hard,” Murata said of Golovkin, who’s 29-0 (26 KOs) and has recently earned the WBA’s super champion status. “I thought that I was working a lot, but it was just self-satisfaction after all. Through the two weeks, I got to think that I wasn’t working enough.”

Murata spoke about Golovkin’s heavy punches as well, which he described as “like a stone” while he was in California. But he seemed to have been even more impressed by his arsenal as an experienced boxer.

“He’s working on things using his brain,” Murata said. “He’s got a lot of depth in his boxing.”

Murata, who’s currently ranked No. 11 by the WBC, acknowledged that he still had much to improve to be a top boxer on the planet.

“If we’d fight for full rounds with 10-ounce (283-gram) gloves, I think that I’d get knocked down,” Murata said, recalling his sparring session with Golovkin.

Yet at the same time, Murata thinks that in time he can reach that level and can become a world champion. He added that he landed some of his punches on Golovkin.

But he said that what separates him and a true champion like Golovkin is the amount of experience they’ve accumulated in the ring.

“His experience plays a big role,” Murata said of Golovkin, a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics. “Even if he’s in bad condition, he can still manage to change his way of fighting, changing his way of attacking.”

Golovkin, 32, is set to fight Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden on Saturday with his WBA and IBO middleweight belts on the line.

On the Sept. 5 card, Yaegashi will try to defend his WBC world flyweight title against Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez (39-0), while Inoue, who won the WBC world light flyweight belt in April, faces Samartlek Kokietgym of Thailand for his first title defense.