While middleweight champions Gennady Golovkin and Billy Joe Saunders are busy with trying to defend their respective belts in the coming months, Ryota Murata continues to knock out opponents as the WBA "regular" middleweight champions.
Murata knocked out European middleweight champion Emanuele Blandamura in the eighth round to retain his WBA title in the main event of a Yokohama, Japan boxing event. The fight also was broadcast live in the United States as a special Top Rank Boxing on ESPN telecast, the second time Murata’s fight was shown in the American country on ESPN.
The fight saw Murata’s right hand dominate the overmatched Italian challenger. Blandamura’s offense proved to be of little effect as Murata defended well against the opposing left body hook. Murata got close to knocking down Blandamura with a body shot about halfway through the fight. Murata scored the knockout towards the end of the eighth round with a vicious straight right hand as Blandamura tumbled to the mat and struggled to get back up.
With the loss, Blandamura suffers his first defeat since 2015, dropping his record to 27-3 while Murata’s record now moves to 14-1.
Murata’s win also a historic first in Japanese boxing. By retaining his title against Blandamura, Murata became the first Japanese male boxer to successfully retain a world middleweight title. Murata won the title last October with a seventh-round stoppage win over Hassan N’Dam. That fight was a rematch from their spring 2017 bout, which also took place in Japan, in which N’Dam won the title with a highly controversial split decision.