Gold medalist Ryota Murata of Japan turning pro

Paul Gilham

Ryota Murata won Olympic gold last summer in the middleweight division, and has made the decision to turn professional.

Japan's Ryota Murata, who won gold in London last summer in the middleweight (165 lbs) division, has decided to turn professional. No details of his debut fight have been given.

Murata, 27, bested Brazil's Esquiva Falcao to win the gold medal, thanks to a two-point holding penalty against Falcao that gave Murata a 14-13 win in the final bout. He will have to fight at either 160 or 168 as a pro, and the domestic competition in those weight classes probably won't be terribly tough for him to handle. Japanese boxing is still mostly a small man's game, and though there are some capable fighters near Murata's weight, they don't really have Olympic gold pedigree.

Murata looks to have the style to make a successful transition, which can't be said of all top amateurs, including, arguably, China's Zou Shiming, who made his pro debut on April 6 in front of a big crowd in Macau. Murata is one of many fighters from the London games to make the decision to go pro, including most of the highly unsuccessful American squad.

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