Bob Arum blasts WBA – Murata v Quigley will happen and WILL be for regular belt


When Bob Arum wants something he’s rarely denied and the Top Rank boss wants Jason Quigley to fight his man, Ryōta Murata, on October 20th.

It had been the plan for Murata [14(11)-1(0)] to defend his WBA ‘regular’ belt versus the Donegal middleweight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas but the last few weeks have been filled with uncertainty.

It was to be a surprising and ballsy jump up in class from the Irishman who is also just one fight back from a serious hand injury and a change of trainers.

Following initial reports that the fight was essentially a done deal, the WBA ordered purse bids for a fight between the Japanese beltholder and mandatory Rob Brant [23(16)-1(0)].

Not wanting the fight in the first place and with the WBA ordering the purse to be a 50-50 split – rather than being weighted in favour of the champion – Murata’s promoters Top Rank and Teiken refused to enter a bid.

Therefore, Brant’s promoter Greg Cohen won control of a fight which looks unlikely to happen, with Top Rank VP Carl Moretti and Teiken boss Akihiko Honda both seeming to suggest the belt would be left aside.

Golden Boy’s Quigley [14(11)-0)] remained their opponent of choice – although the lack of a belt on the line may have proved a stumbling block. This won’t be an issue, however, if Bob gets his way.

While it initially looked as though Murata would be vacating the secondary strap to focus on bigger sushi, Arum has put his foot down.

The veteran fight boss is adamant that the London Olympic gold medallist fights Quigley AND keeps the WBA ‘regular’ belt as they look to remain in line to face the winner of the WBC-WBA title rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez in September.

Arum told BoxingScene that “we believe that the calling of the purse bid, the whole circumstances is contrary to WBA rules and Honda and Top Rank refused to participate and we let the WBA know and we’re going to resist the WBA attempting to strip Murata of his title and Murata is going to fight on the 20th of October at Mandalay Bay against Jason Quigley.”

“We’re not going to bow to the dictates of an organization when those dictates are contrary to the rules of the organization,” added the promoter behind Belfast featherweight Mick Conlan – who is set to feature on the October 20th bill in Las Vegas.

It’s a saga which is expected to rumble on.

Cohen currently has the keys to Murata-Brant bout, and wants it to headline a bill in New York, Atlantic City, or the challenger’s home city of Minneapolis, on October 27th.

This, is out of the question for Team Murata and, thus, we are at an impasse and any resolution will leave one party aggrieved.

In terms of Quigley, the Ballybofey 27-year-old is currently in the early stages of camp at the Wincobank in Sheffield ahead of his next fight, whoever and whenever that may be.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie