Report by Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat
Olympic middleweight gold medalist in London, Japan’s Ryota Murata, 161, impressively decked his professional debut as he dropped OPBF 160-pound champ Akio Shibata (21-8-1, 9 KOs), also 161, in the opening session and quickly halted him with his furious follow-up at 2:24 of the second round in a scheduled six-rounder on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. Murata, physically stronger and more powerful, took the leadoff with his opening attack to have the compatriot circling or retreating from pillar to post. In the closing seconds of the round, Murata’s long right caught Shibata, who badly hit the deck and barely beat the count. He had a very narrow escape.
It was a matter of time how soon Murata would finish the affair as Shibata was apparently overwhelmed and overpowered by the ex-Olympic winner. The second witnessed Murata swarm over the fading foe with a flurry of punches that had him staggering to the ropes, which prompted referee Fukuchi to declare a well-received halt. Murata, five years his junior at 27, simply looked too pugnacious and powerful for the crestfallen loser.
Murata jubilantly said, “I wish to express my great thanks for many people’s supports and also thank for Mr. Shibata having accepted this six-round bout in my pro debut. I’m very grateful to the promoter Mr. Honda and Mr. Bob Arum who kindly came here to see my first performance.”
Murata, whose amateur mark was 119-19, 89 stoppages, is expected to fight two more bouts here in Japan before he starts his campaign in the US under Top Rank, Inc. from next year. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum was in attendance and looked to have had a good impression on Murata’s quick triumph.
Formerly two-time world champ in the feather and super-feather divisions, Venezuelan Jorge Linares (34-3, 22 KOs), 136, easily disposed of Nicaraguan Berman Sanchez (26-6-3, 18 KOs), 136, at 1:09 of the third round in a scheduled eight. Dropping his victim twice in the second, Linares finished the affair with a left-right combo by stretching him out.
Japanese super-light champ Keita Obara (9-1, 8 KOs), 140, kept his national belt by knocking out So Takenaka (18-7-2, 8 KOs), 139.75, at 2:34.
Unbeaten bantam prospect Takahiro Shigee (9-0-1, 7 KOs), 119.5, positively kept throwing busy combinations to counterpunching Filipino, ex-WBO#2 bantam contender Dayer (AKA Diarh) Gabutan (18-3-3, 9 KOs), 119.5, by a split verdict (77-76 twice and 76-77) over eight fast rounds.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.