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Rob Brant to return as Jesse Hart-Joe Smith Jr. co-feature January 11th

Brant has not fought since losing the rematch to Ryota Murata in July

Rob Brant v Ryota Murata - WBA Middleweight Title Bout Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

It won’t be a rubber match with Ryota Murata, but former WBA middleweight champion Rob Brant will return to action on January 11th as the co-feature for Jesse Hart vs. Joe Smith Jr. on ESPN.

Top prospect Xander Zayas, who made it 2-0 (2 KO) this past weekend, will appear as well.

Brant’s (25-2, 17 KO) underwhelming loss to Juergen Braehmer in the World Boxing Super Series made him a considerable underdog in his 2018 bout with Ryota Murata, but ridiculous output carried Brant to one of the year’s more surprising upsets. A successful defense against Khasan Baysangurov led to a rematch with Murata, who avenged the loss in decisive fashion via second-round stoppage.

Brant had reportedly exercised the rematch clause, but Murata instead signed to face Canadian puncher Steven Butler in the coming weeks. The 29-year-old remains ranked by the WBA and WBC at 160 pounds and there’s presumably still plenty left in the tank, so he should find his way back into title contention before long, probably against whoever wins between Murata and Butler.

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