by Cliff Rold
As much as bad decisions are decried in boxing, it’s rare to see much consequence.
Often the best we can hope for is an immediate rematch to right a perceived wrong.
The first fight between Japan’s 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Ryota Murata and two-time Olympian and former WBO middleweight titlist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam shouldn’t have needed a rematch.
We’re getting one anyways in the early Sunday hours on ESPN (7:15 AM EST).
Last time, Murata scored a knockdown in the fourth and, while he could have moved his hands more, appeared to do more than enough to win against a moving and rarely landing N’Jikam. One judge gave Murata nine rounds. The other two saw N’Jikam winning eight and nine rounds respectively.
Can N’Jikam win this time without controversy?
Let’s go to the report card.
Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam
Title: WBA “sub” middleweight
Previous Titles: WBO middleweight (2012)
Height: 5’11 ½
Weight: 158 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Pantin, France (Born in Cameroon)
Record: 36-2, 21 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2 (5-2 including interim and sub-WBA title bouts)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Peter Quillin L12; David Lemieux L12
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 159 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 12-1, 9 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1 including “sub” WBA title fights
Current/Former World Champions Faced: Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam L12
Pre-Fight: Speed – N’Jikam B+; Murata B
Pre-Fight: Power – N’Jikam B; Murata B
Pre-Fight: Defense – N’Jikam C+; Murata B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – N’Jikam B+; Murata B+
For the uninitiated, the title on the line this weekend is not the same WBA belt currently held by Gennady Golovkin. While the winner will be called a champ, what they really are is a better-adorned mandatory for Golovkin operating on a looser timetable.
The WBA collects fees on all of it, just as they did when Golovkin was in the position the winner of this fight will be and Felix Sturm was the super champion.
N’Jikam is a good chin away from being an elite fighter and has shown tremendous guts over the years. He was down eleven times total in two fights against Peter Quillin and David Lemieux and yet finished both fights.
And not only did he finish but he fought well enough to be competitive when he wasn’t on the floor. Murata only dropped him once, which says something about how the first fight might have gotten away. N’Jikam moved his hands a lot. There wasn’t a ton landing clean but a lazy night of judging could overlook what Murata was doing when he got to the head and body.
Murata won’t make the same mistake twice and, after the angry reaction of the head of the WBA after their first fight, the judges should be expected to bring their A-game. Murata will be more active and score at least one more knockdown, but N’Jikam’s heart and guts keep his record of finishing fights intact. The pick is Murata by decision.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 40-17
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]