By Jake Donovan
Ryota Murata enjoyed a successful pro debut, cutting straight to the chase in stopping veteran Akio Shibata inside of two rounds Sunday evening in Tokyo, Japan.
The bout was the first for Murata since capturing Olympic gold for Japan in the 2012 Summer Olympics. With co-promoter Bob Arum at ringside (Murata is also guided by Teiken Promotions in Japan), the 27-year old middleweight didn't disappoint, sending Shibata (now 21-8-1, 9KO) to the canvas in the opening round before finishing him off at 2:34 of round two.
Murata's pro career will appear to follow a similar blueprint to that of Zou Shiming. The three-time Olympic medalist from China who is already being groomed for an eight-round affair in just his third pro fight this upcoming November. Murata is already ahead of Shiming's schedule; Sunday's bout was scheduled for six rounds and against an opponent with 29 pro fights coming into the contest.
The first win of Murata's pro run comes after making history on various levels in Japan's amateur program. His Gold medal run in the 2012 London Games earned him the distinction as the nation's first Gold medalist in nearly 40 years and its first medalist of any kind since 1968. Murata is also the only fighter in his nation's history to capture an Olympic medal in any weight class above the bantamweight division.
Details for Murata's next pro fight have yet to be announced.
Former two-division champ Jorge Linares (34-3, 22KO) picked up his third straight win, scoring a third round stoppage of Berman Sanchez (26-6-3, 18KO). Both fighters came in just above the lightweight limit for the scheduled 10-round affair.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox