TOKYO: London Olympic gold-medalist Ryota Murata is ready to take his pro career to the next level after his win over American Dave Peterson on Friday.
Murata, Japan’s first gold medal-winning boxer in 48 years, is set to feature on Top Rank’s next card at the Venetian Macao in Macau on February 22, having signed with the American promoters in June.
He follows Philippine boxing star Manny Pacquiao, who defeated Brandon Rios in an overwhelming victory in a Top Rank event in Macau in November.
Murata stopped Peterson with a final-round TKO at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Friday night for the second win of his pro career, having beaten fellow Japanese Akio Shibata with a second-round KO in his debut in August.
Murata is part of Top Rank’s push to make inroads in Asia, with China’s Olympic light flyweight gold-medallist Zou Shiming also set to feature on the card alongside fellow London champion, light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev of Russia.
“My next fight will be overseas, and I want to be able to put on a good show,” the 182-centimetre Murata told reporters after the 73-kilogramme contract weight fight.
“I won tonight and I also beat Shibata, who was the Oriental and Pacific champion. The more I win the less I want to lose and the better fights I want to have, so it was important for me to win tonight. I want to keep improving with every fight.”
Top Rank chief Bob Arum expects Murata to compete against the top fighters in the middleweight division within a relatively short space of time, and the Japanese is pleased with the way his fledgling pro career is progressing.
“I was a little bit stiff early in the match and that’s something for me think about,” the 27-year-old said.
“But if you look on the positive side, I took it to the eighth round so that’s good from a stamina point of view. Pace is the thing I have to work on. It’s all experience.
“I’m always being told that every time I fight it adds more experience, but next time I’d like to bring it all together and show what I can do.”
Murata is hugely popular in Japan, having become the first Japanese fighter to win an Olympic medal in a division other than bantamweight or flyweight.
He took the country’s first gold medal in almost half a century in the sport when he beat Brazilian Esquiva Falcao Florentino on points to win the middleweight title last summer.
However, the native of Japan’s ancient capital of Nara admits he is still coming to terms with his new surroundings.
“Because I did well in my first fight I felt pressure to keep it going and win my second,” he said.
“It was only my second time in the ring as a pro and I felt a bit nervous because of that.
“Going to the eighth round was a big thing to take from the fight. However much you train, a real bout always brings up things that you can’t get anywhere else.”