After a controversial loss in his first world title shot in May, Ryota Murata has publicly adopted an “it-happens-when-it-happens” attitude about his potential rematch against the same opponent.
Now, it will happen. He has earned another shot, perhaps quicker than many thought.
Olympic gold medalist Murata (12-1, nine KOs) will take on WBA middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Oct. 22, organizers announced Thursday.
“I appreciate that N’Dam has accepted another fight with me,” said Murata, who lost to the Cameroonian-Frenchman in a split decision, although the Japanese seemed to have gotten the better of the fight at Ariake Colosseum on May 20 for a then-vacant WBA middleweight crown against N’Dam.
“Though it was kind of an adventure for me to debut (as a professional boxer), afterward I faced fighters that I was expected to beat if I performed to my full ability. But in my last fight, I fought against a very competitive boxer in N’Dam, and he raised me to another level, taking me to who I am today. With that said, I think that he’s going to get me to an even higher place through our next fight.”
The 31-year-old did not protest the decision in the N’Dam bout, saying that it was out of his control. He even visited N’Dam on the day after the fight to thank him for having flown all the way to Japan from Europe.
Murata admitted the he and N’Dam have built up a friendship since, but emphasized that he would not hesitate “to exchange blows” with him once they step into the ring in October.
Meanwhile, N’Dam (36-2, 21 KOs), who jokingly noted that Japan is “like his home” now, said that he thought Murata was a tougher boxer than he had thought he would be in their first meeting, and that the rematch would be another hard-fought battle.
In the first bout, N’Dam, who was No. 1 in the rankings at the time, was knocked down in the fourth round by a right counter from Murata, who was ranked No. 2. Murata landed more heavy shots during the remainder of the fight, though he was not able to send his opponent to the canvas again.
N’Dam said that Murata is a tall fighter with long arms and “explosive” punches, and that he must be careful at all times.
Asked what he thought about people saying the result of the previous fight was an outrageous decision, leading WBA president Gilberto Mendoza to order a rematch between the two, N’Dam responded that it is not unusual for a fight to be so close when two competitive boxers step into the ring.
“So I don’t think about what the (president) said too much,” the 33-year-old said. “If I get a rematch, I just do it.”
Murata’s trainer, Sendai Tanaka, expressed confidence that his boxer has “developed in all aspects” since the May event.
“He can box right now, but we are going to have a training camp so we’ll make sure he’ll definitely win the fight,” Tanaka said.
Teiken Promotion president and former WBC super lightweight champ Tsuyoshi Hamada hopes to have a clear-cut winner so there won’t be any dispute this time.
Murata and his team insisted that he mostly executed their game plan in his loss to N’Dam last time out, but could have been more aggressive and had the decision go in his favor.
N’Dam promised that it would not be the same type of a fight for the rematch, saying that Murata would “be better than last time.”
“So you are not going to see the same fight,” he said.
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