Staff picks: Brant vs Murata II

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Will it be repeat for Rob Brant or revenge for Ryota Murata?

This Friday from Osaka, Japan, Rob Brant heads overseas to defend his WBA “world” middleweight title in a rematch against the man he took the belt from last year, Ryota Murata.

Our staffers make their picks.

Scott Christ

Nobody except maybe Brant thought that Brant was going to beat Murata last October, but he did. I scored it a bit closer than the judges — I had it 116-112 for Brant — but it was a legitimate, clear victory for him. He came out firing and though he slowed a bit over the course of the fight, he never slowed enough for Murata to put together enough of a run to come back.

Murata is a good fighter, but he’s also 33 and coming off of a demoralizing loss. And he wasn’t keen to jump back in with Brant, either — he took this because there was basically nothing else to take. He’s got home field in Japan, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem for Brant. Brant has confidence, momentum, and the knowledge that he already beat this guy once. This is a desperation situation for Murata, and while that could be a good thing, it could just as easily do him in. I’m going repeat instead of revenge. Brant UD-12

Wil Esco

The last time these two middleweights went head-to-head we had a pretty good action fight. Murata proved to be a tough Japanese battler but just couldn’t keep up with the relentless pace set by Brant, who nearly doubled Murata’s punch output. It’s not often we see a middleweight throw over 1000 punches in fight, but that’s exactly what Brant did, and in doing so he proved that he has a better engine than most. So I actually figure this fight to play out much like the first, mostly because I don’t think that Murata has enough wrinkles in his game to offset what Brant will be looking to do. I think Murata tries to hang tough, but ultimately gets outboxed and outworked by Brant for a second time. Brant UD-12

Patrick L. Stumberg

I’ve made my thoughts on immediate rematches clear. Yes, I know Brant has had a fight in the interim, but Murata hasn’t, and as such, we haven’t had a chance to see whether Murata’s corrected the flaws in the style that Brant so thoroughly utilized the first time around.

I’m going to go ahead and extrapolate that he hasn’t.

Brant perfectly exploited Murata’s tendency to shell up under fire; Murata landed the harder punches when they exchanged, but allowed Brant to rack up an insurmountable statistical edge. This strikes me as an ingrained style issue, not a question of poor gameplanning, which limits Murata’s chances in a rematch.

If Murata can get Brant consistently moving backwards, this is winnable. We’ve already seen him try and fail to do that for half an hour. Expect him to put up a better fight than before, but once again struggle in the face of Brant’s volume. Brant UD-12

Lewis Watson

Murata is looking for revenge over Brant in front of an adoring home crowd in Osaka. Whether this added incentive will prove enough to successfully regain the WBA middleweight title from ‘Bravo’ Brant following last October’s shock defeat will be an intriguing tale of repeat vs revenge.

If Brant can match the incredible work rate and punch output from his title-winning night in Las Vegas, then Murata will need a plan B in Japan instead of trading with the middleweight titlist. With a detailed game plan – one crafted in the nine months he has spent licking his wounds – Murata has a chance of winning on the cards. Murata looked happy to eat punch after punch in their opening duel, but it’s a dangerous assumption from Brant to expect the same this weekend. The first fight was so one-sided, that even with adjustments, Brant should get over the line. Brant UD-12

And the staff winner is…

1052660504.jpg - Staff picks: Brant vs Murata IIPhoto by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Rob Brant (4-0)!

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Brant vs Murata 2 this Friday, July 12, at 7 am ET, streaming live on ESPN+

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