London Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata was introduced by world renowned American promoter Top Rank at his official signing at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Monday.
The 27-year-old Murata, who became the first Japanese boxer to win an Olympic gold in 48 years before turning pro earlier this year, is expected to debut in Japan at the end of August before fighting in the United States. He will split time training at the Teiken Gym in Tokyo and the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas.
“If you lose after turning pro, your pride is shattered. I hope to keep winning,” said Murata after being introduced by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. Asked how he would be using his signing bonus, Murata joked, “I will leave all of that up to my wife.”
Arum said that Murata will have his first three bouts in Japan before hitting the big stage in the United States as well as places such as Singapore, where Top Rank is planning a series of shows with the Venetian resort and casino.
“The U.S. has a culture in the heavyweight divisions. 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,” Murata said.
Arum, who has promoted such legends as former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in the past, and more recently pugilist greats such as Manny Pacquiao and undefeated WBC champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., said he expects the 1.82-meter Murata to get a crack at world title in the 72-kilogram division within three years.
The Nara native drew a blank at times while trying to give a prepared speech in English but laughed it off all the same. “I really went blank at times but that’s just like me. I feel some pressure, but more than that I just feel excited to get an opportunity to flourish.”