Ryota Murata could be heading back to the United States for his next middleweight title defense.
According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Murata, the WBA “regular” middleweight champion, will likely fight on a Top Rank Boxing card on October 20 in Las Vegas. The venue has not been decided, but the fight would take place at an MGM Property, most likely either the MGM Grand or the Mandalay Bay. The fight would be streamed on the ESPN+ app, where Murata’s last fight was also streamed.
Murata, who is co-promoted by Top Rank and Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions, was originally planned to fight undefeated middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao, but according to the ESPN report, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said Falcao will not be fighting Murata on the October event.
One possible opponent for Murata would be Rob Brant, the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the WBA. Brant is the mandatory challenger to Murata’s version of the title, of which Gennady Golovkin holds the “super” version of the WBA middleweight title. Brant competed in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament, getting eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.
Murata won the title last year when he stopped Hassan N’Dam in seven rounds in a rematch of their controversial May 2017 bout that saw N’Dam win the title. Murata then defended his title against Emanuele Felice Blandamura back in April, becoming the first Japanese man in history to successfully defend a middleweight boxing world title.