Vacate for Vegas – Team Murata target Jason Quigley following purse problems


After looking dead in the water, Jason Quigley‘s major fight is now very much back on the radar.

The Donegal middleweight, at the end of last month, was reported to be close to signing for a fight with Japanese star Ryōta Murata [14(11)-1(0)] at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday October 20th.

However, with Murata holding the WBA ‘regular’ belt, the organisation ordered for the 2012 Olympic champion to instead defend the secondary title versus mandatory challenger Rob Brant [23(16)-1(0)], seemingly scuppering a scrap with Quigley.

Purse bids for this proposed match-up were due yesterday and just one submission was made – with Brant’s promoter Greg Cohen lodging a relatively small bid of $202,114 which came in just over the $200,000 minimum required by the WBA.

Cohen expressed his desire to promote the fight on October 27th in either New York, Atlantic City, or Bryant’s home city of Minneapolis – but it seems now that the largely unwanted match-up will not materialised.

Neither Teiken or Top Rank, who co-promote Murata, entered bids and it emerged that they plan to vacate the WBA regular belt and proceed with their October 20th fight plan – with Murata headlining an ESPN+ bill as he looks to be built up as a potential challenger for the winner of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez’s September WBA-WBC middleweight title rematch.

This decision was made a whole lot easier after the WBA dictated that the split for any Murata-Bryant bout would be 50-50 rather than the usual 70-30 or 75-25 in favour of the champion.

Teiken boss Akihiko Honda admitted that purse splits were an issue, telling Japanese media that “what they [the WBA] are saying now and what we accepted before are different.”

“Our priority is on our target, not on piling up title defences,” he added, suggesting an imminent vacation.”

Top Rank VP Carl Moretti told ESPN that “we elected not to bid on the fight, and neither did Teiken, so Greg Cohen was the only bidder on the fight, but Murata will be fighting October 20th.”

Moretti also revealed that he remains in talks with Quigley’s promoter Golden Boy regarding their previously planned fight.

Whether Quigley [14(11)-0] and his team, who have suffered a fortnight of uncertainty, will still be keen on the fight without the WBA regular belt on the line remains to be seen.

The Ballybofey 27-year-old last fought in March in what was his first fight with trainer Dom Ingle. Here, returning from a year out with a major hand injury, Quigley dominated and stopped Daniel Rosario in Boston.

Quigley, the WBC #3 and WBA #9, is tipping over in camp in Sheffield currently as he awaits his next move – either a jump up in class to fight TBRB #7 Murata or a more gradual climb.

One Irish fighter that has been given some semblance of clarity is Belfast featherweight Mick Conlan [8(5)-0].

The Falls Road fighter was mooted for October 20th before the Bryant saga and now looks to have his Vegas date buttoned down going by Moretti’s comments.

Additionally, as an aside, with WBA #1 Alvarez challenging for the real title, a vacation from Murata would theoretically pit #2 Bryant against #3 Spike O’Sullivan for the regular belt. However, the Cork middleweight looks set to face former IBF champ David Lemieux on the Golovkin-Canelo bill on September 15th instead.
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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