Japan's Ryota Murata successfully defended his World Boxing Association middleweight title Sunday night, improving to 14-1 with an eighth-round technical knockout of Italian Emanuele Blandamura.
In front of a vocal home crowd at Yokohama Arena, the London Olympic gold medalist became the first Japanese fighter to successfully defend a world championship in the weight class.
Murata, 32, took the offensive against his 38-year-old opponent from the opening bell, leading with his left jab while doing most damage with his straight right.
With the fight opening up from the sixth round, Murata continued pursuing Blandamura with left-jab, straight-right combinations before dropping the challenger with a right in the closing seconds of the eighth, ending the fight on a referee's decision. The defeat saw Blandamura drop to 27-3.
(Ryota Murata punishes Emanuele Blandamura.)
Earlier in the night, Nicaragua's Cristofer Rosales was crowned the new World Boxing Council flyweight champion after beating the former titleholder, Japan's Daigo Higa, with a ninth-round technical knockout.
Higa was stripped of the title the previous day after failing to make weight for the fight. The WBC and both camps agreed to proceed with the bout under the condition that Rosales would take the belt with a win, with the title to be vacated in the case of a draw or a Higa victory.
Higa fell to 15-1 after his corner threw in the towel as the 22-year-old began to falter and take heavy punishment in exchanges with 23-year-old Rosales, who improved to 27-3.
Sunday night's fight was Murata's first since winning the WBA belt in a rematch with France's Hassan N'Dam in October. Murata suffered the only loss of his professional career in a controversial decision against N'Dam in their first fight in May.
Uproar over the fight, which Murata appeared to dominate, prompted the WBA to order a rematch and suspend two of the judges involved.