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Olympic Middleweights: Murata Wins Japan’s First Gold in 48 Years


The last time Japan’s Ryota Murata went up against Brazil’s Esquivo Falcao Florentino, the outcome was hardly in doubt. Well, in the rematch, Florentino closed the gap, about as far as it could be closed, but it still was not enough, as Murata took Olympic gold in the middleweight division.

However, it was not so clear cut as to not involve some extenuating circumstances.

Murata got off to a good start, leading by two points at the end of the first round. But Florentino closed the gap to 9-8 at the end of two rounds, and actually looked like he might be on his way to a win in the third round. But then he got a two-point penalty, which certainly meant the difference between victory and defeat.

“I’m really happy, but the result was really out of my control,” said Murata after the bout.

After winning his first round match against Algeria’s Abdelmalek Rahou 21-12, Murata beat Adam Kilicci of Turkey 17-13 and then Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev 13-12.

The 26-year-old Murata, a graduate of Toyo University in Tokyo, had actually taken a break from boxing after getting beaten in an Olympic qualifier in 2008. But he has come back roaring; first winning a silver medal in the World Championships last year (where he beat Florentino 24-11), becoming the first Japanese middleweight to get to the finals in that event, and now ascending to the Olympic throne.

He establishes a milestone there as well, as he became the first gold medal winner from Japan since Takao Sakurai won in the bantamweight division back in 1964.

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