May 20, 2017


Cameroon-born Frenchman Hassan NfDam NfJikam (36-2, 21 KOs), 159.5, barely acquired the vacant WBA middleweight belt as he was awarded a controversial split decision over previously undefeated 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (12-1, 9 KOs), 159.5, over twelve rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. The official tallies were as follows: Gustavo Padilla (Panama) 116-111, Hubert Earl (Canada) 115-112, both for NfDam, and Raul Caiz Sr. (US) 117-110 for Murata. The referee was Luis Pabon (Puerto Rico).

Murata connected with a beautiful right counter, dropping NfDam to the deck in the closing seconds of the fourth round. NfDam kept moving to-and-fro to avert Muratafs stronger punches, though occasionally losing his equilibrium.

After the completion of the contest all the audience as well as nationwide TV watchers believed in Muratafs coronation, but their hot expectations turned into bitter disappointment. Murata looked more a winner than a loser to the eyes of the crowd that was greatly embarrassed at the verdict.

Murata, two years his junior ta 31, was a taller boxer by an inch and adopted a Arthur Abraham peek-a-boo style to nullify NfDamfs busy shots with his gloves and arms almost completely, as he said after the bout, gNo punches of NfDam hurt me at all.h It seemed true, but the Frenchman threw seemingly some twice as many punches as Murata who averted almost all of them with his high and tight guard.

Hassan made a good start with busier combinations to Muratafs guard, while the Japanese prospect cautiously felt out his mobility and hand speed as well by blocking all of them in the first three rounds. Murata only sporadically threw solid left-right combos to the fleet-footed NfDam.

At 2:30 of the fourth, Murata exploded a vicious countering right to the face of Hassan, who fell down and regained his feet--as he had tasted six knockdowns in his fight with Peter Quillin in 2012 and four visits to the deck in his David Lemieux bout in 2015. As he did, NfDam displayed a remarkable recuperative power and kept riding a fast bicycle used for Tour de France that he would not absorb Muratafs powerful shot again.

The ex-Olympic gold medalist was in command in the fourth through seventh rounds with his strong pressure, and had him staggering to the ropes with a heavy left-light combo in the fifth and sixth sessions.

The seventh saw Hassanfs bicycle slip down twice with Muratafs constant pressure, but it might be true Murata had a difficulty catching up with such an incessantly moving target.

We saw the ninth and tenth rounds very close and hard to score since NfDam kept moving around with Murata occasionally throwing jabs and one-two combinations to the Fancy Dan.

It was surprising that NfDam, despite his absorption of Muratafs sporadic but stronger shots, maintained his speed on hand and foot even in the championship rounds, and proved he remained a really elusive target.

The newly crowned champ Hassan said, gI thought I won, but wasnft sure as it isnft my home turf but Muratafs. I took a few strong shots of Murata in every round, while I think I threw more jabs and combinations to him. Muratafs right hand was truly strong, but he replied on his right shot too much and wasnft a complete boxer. But he is so much talented, and will become world champ in the future.h

The dejected loser Murata reviewed the fight, saying, gOf course, I thought I won. But I should have hit more punches to drop NfDam once or twice more to clearly win. I feel sorry not to be able to win, but I could enjoy fighting in the world title bout, which became a great experience to me.h

All the newspapers here in Japan wondered the disputed decision since Murata was such a highly expected athlete who people strongly expected his success both in the amateur and professional fields and Murata drew the whole nationfs earnest attentions. The papers discussed which is more essential?effective punches or number of punches, that is, who the winner was?NfDam or Murata.

Therefs no use to cry over spilt split decision. There will be only a way to solve the controversy, which must be a rematch of the competitive rivals. Murata definitely deserve a grudge fight.

Promoter: Teiken Promotions.

WBA supervisor: Julio Thyme (Panama).


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