By Lem Satterfield
Newly-crowned WBA “regular” middleweight champion Rob Brant has begun assessing his counterparts after having beaten 160-pound rival Ryota Murata by unanimous decision, particularly Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
The 28-year-old Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) dethroned Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) as middleweight champion following a non-stop, Fight Of The Year caliber toe-to-toe brawl on October 20 at Park MGM in Las Vegas,
“I was really happy with the results. I feel like I kept my punch-count really high, but a minus is that I felt like I sacrificed a little defense, which is something that I want to improve on along with mixing in more power shots, going forward,” said Brant, who sported facial bruises from the punches of Murata, a 32-year-old 2012 London Olympics gold medalist from Japan.
“That can be a problem coming forward against guys who can really punch, load up on shots, wobble you and get you into trouble. You want to tighten up that defense moving in and out. But when you win a world title, that’s the launching point because you’ve placed yourself among the best fighters in the world. It only gets tougher from here on out, so now it’s time to sit down and examine my options moving forward.”
Also on October 20, the 30-year-old former 154-pound champion Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs) earned the vacated WBO crown by scoring four knockdowns during a unanimous decision over Walter Kautondokwo (17-1, 16 KOs).
A former sparring partner for left-handed IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), Brant’s lone setback was in October 2017 by unanimous decision to former 160-pound champion Juergen Braehmer of Germany, a southpaw he faced in a 167-pound bout in Schwerin, Germany.
“Andrade is very fast and very different than Errol Spence Jr. But any experience that I’ve gained from being in with a hard-nosed southpaw like Errol is going to be good for you,” said Brant.
“I know Andrade has fast hands, but he gets a little bit wide and open when he gets off some of his slapping shots. So you definitely wanna punch in between while he’s punching. But Andrade’s very talented.”
Last weekend, the 31-year-old Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) earned his third straight victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the IBF’s vacant crown, ending the loser’s stoppage run at six.
“I’ve always been a Danny Jacobs fan, and he looked great. You really have to catch him bum-rushing in. Sometimes, whether or not he’s hurt you, if catches you with a big shot and if he feels like he hurt you, then he can come in a little reckless. That’s how you’re really gonna have to catch him,” said Brant.
“You have to beat him with punch-count as well and kind of be really safe. He’s one of the more powerful middleweights in the division. He’s fought some top-level opposition, even though he doesn’t always get the knockout or the stoppage. But if you look at his record as a whole, he’s a puncher. You have go be cognizant of what you’re doing and definitely catch him on his way coming in.”
Jacobs is in line to face the 28-year-old Alvarez (50-1-1, 34 KOs), the IBO, WBC and “super” WBA 160-pound world titleholder who will pursue a third crown in as many division on December 15 against 168- pound Rocky Fielding.
“Canelo’s the fight that everybody wants, and, of course, that’s the fight that I would take in a second based on the fact that it’s worth a lot of money. But I also think Canelo is very beatable, especially at middleweight,” said Brant of Alvarez, who earlier this month signed a $365 million multi-fight deal with the streaming service DAZN.
“Being a smaller guy, he has to step in fast and throw shots, but of course you have to be cautious and aware whenever someone comes in at you that hot. But he can certainly be out-boxed by using great head movement and using your jab to give yourself first dibs on shots from the outside, especially with a little bit of hand speed -- you should be able to touch him.”
Another is the 28-year-old Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs), who will pursue his initial WBC interim title defense and his fourth straight stoppage victory against southpaw two-time title challenger Willie Monroe (23-3, 6 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22.
"Jermall is a great fighter and a powerful boxer-puncher who will give you a lot of problems if you don’t take his hard jab away,” said Brant, who has “sparred quite a bit” with Jermall’s twin brother, Jermell (31-0, 15 KOs), who makes the fourth defense of his WBC junior middleweight crown against repeat title challenger Tony Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs) on December 22.
“You also don’t want to bum-rush him or lean to far in, because he’s got a great counter-uppercut. Jermall’s not yet a question that I’ve got to answer until he’s on the assignment board, but you can’t play to his strengths, and you have to tread carefully. I won’t be going to his fight [at Barclays,] but sometimes the best seat in the house is right in front of your television where you can press play and rewind, so I’ll definitely be watching it from home.”
Brant’s trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, likes his fighter’s chances against Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), whose unanimous decision in March 2017 over switch-hitting Jacobs in a title unification ended “Triple-G’s” 23-fight, nine-year stoppage streak.
“Rob is a boxer-puncher, and I would like to see Rob fight Triple-G. Rob is an athlete, first and foremost, but like I said, he can box and he can punch,” said Muhammad.
“Other than Jacobs, I don’t think Golovkin’s seen or been in the ring with two many of those …I believe that Triple-G has shown that he’s lost a step or two. So if Rob lands a good one on Golovkin’s chin, he can go, too.”