Ryota Murata Promises Knockouts As Pro Boxer in US

Japanese boxing gold medalist Ryota Murata positioned himself as a knockout artist in his US introduction Monday after being signed by Top Rank boxing promotion company.

Murata, 27, became the first Japanese to win an Olympic boxing gold medal in 48 years at last year’s London Games. With his good looks, finesse and and punching power, Murata has become the most exciting new boxing talent in not only Japan but Asia as a whole.

Now that he has signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Murata plans to fight his first three pro matches in Japan beginning at the end of August before taking on his first fight in the US. He plans to divide his training time between Tokyo’s Teiken Gym and the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas.

“If you lose after turning pro, your pride is shattered,” said Murata after being introduced by Bob Arum. “I hope to keep winning.

“The U.S. has a culture in the heavyweight divisions,” Murata added. “It’s exciting to anyone who watches because you can knock someone out with one punch. My mission is to reconfirm this enticement of boxing with my results. I’ll be aiming for knockouts.”

As for what he plans to do with his signing bonus, Murata joked, “I will leave all of that up to my wife.”

At 5-11 1/2 and 165 pounds Murata is one of the biggest first-rank boxers in recent memory for Japan where boxers tend to compete in the lightest weight divisions. In fact, Murata’s Olympic gold is the first Japanese boxing medal of any color not to have been won in either the bantamweight or flyweight divisions.

Murata’s signing by Top Rank is seen as an auspicious start for his pro career because its founder and CEO Bob Arum has promoted boxers like Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Arum said he expects Murata to get a world title fight in the 72-kilogram (159-lb.) division within three years.