ESPN's new relationship with Top Rank has now afforded them the opportunity to broadcast world championship boxing fights, even if they were to take pace in Japan.
ESPN announced that it will broadcast the rematch between Hassan N'Dam and Ryota Murata for the WBA "regular" middleweight championship live from Japan on October 22 on the ESPN2 channel. The one caveat the fight broadcast has for U.S. viewers is that it will be shown live at 7 a.m. on the east coast.
The first fight between the two, which took place in May, saw N'Dam win the title in a highly controversial decision that saw many in the boxing community believe Murata, who scored a knockdown on N'Dam early in the fight, was robbed of the title. The scoring in that bout got so much backlash, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza suspended judges Gustavo Padilla and Hubert Earle, who had N'Dam winning the fight, for six months and ordered a rematch between the two boxers.
Despite the contract between Top Rank and ESPN giving the promotion prime-time access to have their top fights being broadcasted on the network, deal also calls for special Top Rank fights to also be shown on the network. ESPN has exclusive streaming rights for Top Rank undercards.
There two other world title fights on the card, which takes place at the Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, but no announcement on whether those matches will be broadcasted on ESPN as well. Those two fights are Ken Shiro vs. Pedro Guevara for the WBC junior flyweight title and Daigo Higa vs. Thomas Masson for the WBC flyweight title.