By Ian S Palmer
WBA Middleweight Champion Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam of Cameroon will be meeting Ryota Murata of Japan in a highly-anticipated rematch in Tokyo this Sunday, October 22nd. The two met in May in Japan for the vacant title with N’Dam winning a very controversial split decision. In fact, two of the judges were suspended after the bout got six months and the WBA ordered a rematch. N’Dam, who fights out of France, won by scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 110-117 and was dropped in the fourth round. The rematch can be seen live in the U.S. On ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes on Sunday morning at 7am ET.
The 33-year-old N’Dam, a former two-time Olympian, will climb into the ring with a record of 36-2 along with 21 Kos. He’s won five fights in a row after losing a 12-round unanimous decision to David Lemieux in June of 2015. His other career loss was a unanimous decision to former world champ Peter Quillin for the WBO title in October of 2012. The challenger was dropped six times in that fight. N’Dam has good mobility and is adept defensively while his attack is typically set up with his stiff jab.
He has good power, but his chin is obviously a question mark as he’s been on the canvas several times.
The champion isn’t known as a one-punch knockout artist though and his current knockout ratio stands at 55 per cent. He turned pro back in 2004 and has fought 261 rounds since then. N’Dam stands just over 5-feet-11-inches tall and has a reach of 74 inches. N’Dam seems to be content to let his boxing skills carry him to victory and doesn’t usually go looking for stoppages.
N’Dam’s biggest wins so far have been against Murata, Curtis Stevens, Fulgencio Zuniga, Alfonso Blanco, Patrick Mendy and Max Bursak. However, he struggles when moving up on class. Murata is an upper-class boxer as he won a gold medal in the middleweight division at the 2012 Olympics in London, England. He turned pro the next year and the 31-year-old has boxed 77 rounds since then. He enters the rematch with a record of 12-1 with 9 Kos.
Murata is six-feet tall with a 74-inch reach, so is basically the same size as N’Dam. He hasn’t exactly fought the cream of the crop in the middleweight division either, but has beaten Akio Shibata, Carlos Nascimento, Jessie Nicklow, Gunnar Jackson and Bruno Sandoval. Murata possesses fine boxing skills and appears to have a solid chin. He also has pretty good power with a current knockout ratio of 69 per cent.
Murata won’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands this time around and will go for a stoppage if he hurts N’Dam. But that could be a bit dangerous. He should fight the same way as the first bout as he’ll obviously get the benefit of the doubt this time. If a knockout comes then it comes. N’Dam fought at last year’s Olympics in Brazil, but was embarrassed after losing his first contest. Look for Murata to win the title this time around.