Ryota Murata, one of Japan’s most revered sporting heroes, is ready to make his debut as a Las Vegas headliner.
Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will defend his WBA middleweight title against Rob “Bravo” Brant (23-1, 16 KOs), Saturday at MGM’s Park Theater. In the co-feature, Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev (11-0, 10 KOs) will defend the NABF super lightweight belt in a 10-rounder versus former world champion Antonio DeMarco (33-6-1, 24 KOs).
Murata-Brant and Dadashev-DeMarco will stream live in the United States beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ —the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.
The entire undercard will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET and includes the return of Michael “Mick” Conlan (8-0, 5 KOs), the Irish sensation who will face Nicola Cipolletta (14-6-2, 4 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight bout. Also on the card is Conlan’s 2016 Olympic nemesis Vladimir Nikitin (1-0), who will take on Clay Burns (5-4-2, 4 KOs) in a six-rounder at featherweight. It was Nikitin who won a controversial decision over Conlan in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals.
Murata and Brant worked out Wednesday at the Top Rank Gym in front of a large contingent of Japanese and American media, This is what they had to say.
“I am honored to be here in Las Vegas. I want to show everyone a great fight. Brant is a great fighter, and beating him would mean a lot for my career.”
“I want everyone to watch on ESPN+ to see a great fight. I’m going to take what I learned in the gym and show it in the ring.”
“I am happy to be a headliner, but there is more to come. I think there are bigger and better fights for me. This is just a start.”
“I would like to fight Canelo Alvarez, but without the Mexican beef!”
On a potential Gennady Golovkin fight if he beats Brant
“It would be nice if it happens. It would be especially nice because it would be good for boxing.”
“Yes, I think it would be a war. I think it would be a real exciting fight.”
“I have worked so hard for this opportunity. It’s a dream come true to fight for a world title, and it’s in the Mecca of Boxing, Las Vegas. It doesn’t get better than that.”
“I have the utmost respect for Murata as a fighter, but this is my time to shine.”
“This is definitely the best I’ve ever felt. I’ve been in Las Vegas for eight weeks preparing for this fight. Murata is a champion and an Olympic gold medalist, so I know I will have to be at my best.”
“We are prepared for everything because we know anything can happen when you fight a great champion like Murata. It will be a good battle, and I am going in there with bad intentions.”
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