On October 20, a big upset took place in Las Vegas,, as Minnesota’s Rob Brant was too busy and too effective vs. former champion Ryota Murata inside of the Park Theater. After 12 rounds, Brant (24-1, 16 KO’s) won a unanimous decision, as well as the WBA “world” middleweight title.
What’s shocking wasn’t that Brant won, but it was the fact that he won so in such dominant fashion. From the early going of the fight Brant beat Murata (14-2, 11 KO’s) to the punch and had his foe from Japan all but befuddled early on. When Murata attempted to get busier and make a comeback, Brant weathered the storm and stayed composed until the final bell rung.
Brant, 28 years old, is promoted by Greg Cohen, and is currently weighing his options as to what network he could be appearing on next. The Brant vs. Murata matchup was showcased on ESPN +, and we very well could be seeing Brant exclusively on ESPN moving forward, as rumors have it that he is close to signing a deal with Top Rank.
Says ESPN’s Dan Rafael, that DAZN, the popular streaming app which has a close working relationship with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, is also making a push for thew new champion. But it appears that Top Rank is in the lead to land Brant’s services.
What is interesting about this news is the fact that Brant would bypass DAZN to fight on ESPN, as the network has an exclusive deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Surely Brand would be compensated well, but Top Rank doesn’t have a deep stable at middleweight.
DAZN, on the other hand, recently signed WBA/WBC middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez to an exclusive 11-fight, $365 million deal. Canelo returns to the ring on December 15th vs. WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden. After that, a move for Canelo back down to 160 pounds could be in store and Brant would surely reap the benefits of a Canelo fight.
There is also other champions at middleweight who are connected to DAZN. Daniel Jacobs recently returned the picture as a champion, as he is the IBF middleweight titleholder after defeating Sergey Derevychenko on October 27. And Demetrius Andrade is again a champion, claiming the WBO middleweight title after dominating Walter Kautondokwa over 12 rounds on October 20.
Perhaps Brant will rematch with Murata, who has two weeks left to decide on a rematch clause that he may or may not take. Brant would surely have to be favored in such a fight but what would his options be at Top Rank after that?
The dark horse in all of this is former lineal middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who lost his titles to Canelo on September 15th. Golovkin is still a very hot commodity in the sport and is said to be eyeing a deal with DAZN as well.
At least Brant will have some great options moving forward.