Olympic gold medallist Ryota Murata 15-2 (12) regained the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight title with second round stoppage of conqueror Rob Brant 25-2 (17) at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan on Friday night.
The 33-year-old Japanese dropped his American opponent with a flurry of punches, forcing the stoppage at 2:34 of the second frame.
It was a reversal of fortune for Murata, who lost the secondary WBA belt to Brant by wide unanimous decision in Las Vegas last October.
Fighting on home turf, Murata was better prepared the second time around as he absorbed Brant’s early attacks from behind a high guard and sparingly selected his shots.
Judge Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa and Jean Robert Raine of Monaco both scored the first round for Brant, while judge Raul Caiz Sr of the United States favoured the late work of Murata.
The challenger turned aggressor in the second round, pushing Brant back and battering him from pillar to post. Murata landed solid one-two combinations, left uppercuts to the body and a jarring left hook that sent the titleholder to the canvas.
Brant was up quickly but the writing was on the wall. Murata pinned him to the ropes and unleashed a fusillade of shots to the body and head, forcing referee Luis Pabon of Puerto Rico to step in and save the brave American from further punishment.
“I was surprised at Brant’s opening attack, but it motivated me so much that I made up my mind to go more forward to mix it up,” Murata said according to Joe Koizumi of Fightnews.
“His first-round aggression might be his fight plan, but I welcomed his coming and was willing to exchange gloves.
“After I scored a knockdown, I landed a strong left to the body that had him wince visibly. I realized that Brant didn’t like it (body shots), which eventually decreased his fighting spirit.”