• Kyodo

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The World Boxing Association said Thursday it has promoted Japan’s Ryota Murata to its middleweight super champion.

The announcement comes a week after Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vacated the title.

Murata, the middleweight gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, became the WBA middleweight champion in 2017.

The 34-year-old lost his second title defense against Rob Brant in October 2018 but regained the belt with a second-round technical knockout in a rematch with the American in July 2019.

The WBA said it may recognize a fighter as a super champion under special circumstances, adding it considers Murata’s “career and record as a meritorious circumstance for the appointment.”

“It feels a little strange to receive this news when I haven’t been able to fight due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Murata, who last fought in December 2019, on his gym’s website.

“But I take it positively, as it will give me a better shot at a title unification bout with a champion from another organization.”

Murata has 16 wins with 13 knockouts and 2 losses in his professional career.

He becomes the third Japanese to be bestowed with the super champion title after Takashi Uchiyama in the super featherweight division and Hiroto Kyoguchi at light flyweight.

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