Ryota Murata had to beat Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam twice to get it official once. While he’d likely have preferred better judging the first time around, the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist from Japan walked away Sunday with two new accolades.
He’s got a WBA belt, even if it isn’t quite the ‘real’ one (that’s still held by soooper titlist Gennady Golovkin).
And Murata can say he did something men like Peter Quillin and David Lemieux couldn’t do no matter how many times they put N’Dam down.
He sent the gutsy Cameroonian to the showers early.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – N’Jikam B+; Murata B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Power – N’Jikam B; Murata B/Post: B-; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – N’Jikam C+; Murata B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – N’Jikam B+; Murata B+/Post: B; B+
How’s this for irony: in his fights with Quillin and Lemieux, N’Dam was down 11 times it total and finished both fights. Against Murata in the rematch, he kept his feet until his corner wouldn’t let him stand on them again.
His corner did the right thing. N’Dam, who has always given maximum effort win or lose, simply didn’t have anything to give this time. Murata’s echoing body attack brought him off his toes early and N’Dam’s hand speed seemed to evaporate within a couple rounds.
Without his legs or the chance to get his shots home first, all he could do was take a steady beating. As was the case in the first fight, Murata was landing the heavier shots but this time he had a more stationary target.
N’Dam deserves a tip of the cap even in defeat. The years are catching up to him but for a guy with an iffy chin, his bravery, heart, and stamina have served him well. Let’s hope he doesn’t tempt fate too long. His heart isn’t going anywhere but the rest of him could make his heart a hindrance.
Murata is still only 14 fights into his pro career. WBA belt or not, he’s unlikely to be ready for the upper echelon without a few more solid foes on his ledger. Lucky for him, it’s not going to be an issue anytime soon. The idiosyncrasies of the WBA title picture can keep their super and regular champions apart for extended periods.
That’s good for Murata. He can keep building his local ticket base and continuing to improve. He’s aggressive, heavy handed, and willing. That’s good television and with a little more seasoning it might even be a real threat at the very top of the 160 lb. class.
Middleweight is getting crowded in a hurry. Golovkin and Alvarez lead the way but the winner of Billy Joe Saunders-Lemieux, Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs, and Demtrius Andrade makes up a quality supporting class. Add Murata to that mix as well.
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]