Top Rank on ESPN+ Boxing Betting Guide: Brant vs. Murata, Odds and Picks

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On Friday, July 12th, Top Rank Promotions presents a live championship boxing card from the EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan. This event will stream on ESPN+, and it features a main event world title rematch between Rob Brant and Ryota Murata for the WBA middleweight title currently around Brant’s waist.

Murata is looking to win the title back after losing it to Brant last fall.

The undercard features a second championship fight as Ken Shiro defends his WBC junior flyweight belt against Jonathan Taconing. The only other advertised main card fight is Joe Noynay taking on the undefeated Satoshi Shimizu in a junior lightweight fight. Some of Japan’s top boxers will be featured on this card.

This event is scheduled to begin at 7 am ET on ESPN+. These three fights are the only advertised bouts for the show. It remains unclear whether ESPN+ will stream all three main card fights.

Additionally, as of this writing, boxing betting sites haven’t listed odds for all three main card fights.

Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6 KOs) vs. Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8 KOs)

There are no boxing odds for this fight as of the time of writing. However, if I were to predict potential odds, then I would list Shimizu as the favorite in his home country of Japan.

Noynay vs. Shimizu Preview

  Joe Noynay Satoshi Shimizu
Age 23 33
Height 5’8” 5’10.5”
Total Fights 20 8
Record 17-2-1 8-0
Knockouts 6 8

Joe Noynay returns to Japan this week after fighting at the same arena roughly three months ago. He successfully defeated Kosuke Saka for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific super featherweight title.

Noynay scored an impressive second-round TKO over Saka and picked up a big win. Noynay has won five straight contests since his UD loss to Abe in February 2017. Noynay is ranked seventh according to the WBO super featherweight rankings.

Although Noynay has more professional fights on his resume compared to his opponent, it’s Shimizu who comes into this matchup as the more touted prospect. And it’s hard to call Shimizu a “prospect” considering he’s 33 years old.

However, Satoshi didn’t turn pro until 2016. He’s gone undefeated in his professional career since then.

Like with Noynay, Shimizu has fought regional talent as well. Some critics might question both fighters’ legitimacy. If that’s you, then I would like to point out that Shimizu had a solid amateur career including capturing the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.

Shimizu last fought in December 2018, which means this will be his 2019 debut. Currently, Shimizu has won all eight of his fights via KO/TKO. None of his fights have gone beyond the eighth round.

Who Wins This International Title Fight?

Noynay might be only 23, but he has put together a nice record as a professional. With that said, Shimizu has the height and presumed reach advantages. Additionally, he will be fighting in his home country.

In my opinion, Shimizu just looks like the better overall fighter. I believe he has the skills to smother Noynay, but I’m not sure if he will get the TKO/KO victory. If he’s unable to win inside the distance, I expect Shimizu to get the easy UD victory.

Boxing Bet: Satoshi Shimizu (N/A)

Ken Shiro (15-0, 8 KOs) vs. Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1, 22 KOs)

  • Ken Shiro (-2300)
  • Jonathan Taconing (+1100)

It’s no surprise that Shiro is a massive betting favorite for this fight. Over the last 26 months, Shiro has fought six times. However, only four of those fights had available odds. Shiro was the favorite in all of them.

For Taconing, there’s very little data on his previous betting odds. The small sample size that I can find shows Jonathan as the underdog, which validates his large underdog odds. Shiro doesn’t offer any betting value while Taconing is not worthy of a flier for this fight.

Shiro vs. Taconing Preview

  Ken Shiro Jonathan Taconing
Age 27 32
Height 5’4.5” 5’2”
Reach 64”
Total Fights 15 32
Record 15-0 28-3-1
Knockouts 8 22

This fight is the second of two bouts where a Filipino challenger is taking on a Japanese champion. In the case of Shimizu, he’s a regional champ. In Shiro’s case, he’s a world champion. Taconing is a mandatory challenger for this belt and is coming into this contest on a six-fight win streak. His last loss came in July 2016, and that was to Ganigan Lopez.

Ironically, Lopez’s next fight was against Ken Shiro who won via majority decision and took the WBC title. This is the second time that Taconing will fight for the WBC light flyweight title as Lopez was the champ when Taconing fought him three years ago.

Taconing has some power in his hands as he has 22 KO/TO wins out of 28 pro victories. His last two losses have come while fighting in his opponent’s home country.

So, that doesn’t bode well for Taconing heading into Japan even though it’s not that far from the Philippines.

Ken Shiro turned pro in 2014 and has quickly shot up the ranks during that span. This will be his first fight in 2019 after fighting three times per year over the last three years. With each fight, Shiro’s confidence has grown.

He’s become one of the top fighters in the 108-pound weight class, and many pundits expect Shiro to step into the spotlight as the best of the division.

One thing to point out about Shiro’s resume is that he has never fought an opponent with a losing record. His last fight was on December 30th, and he dominated Saul Juarez on his way to an easy UD victory. That decision result broke a three-fight TKO/KO win streak.

Shiro has the technical skills to outbox his opponents and enough power to knock them out. He showed the former in his bout against Guevara when he picked up momentum as the fight went on and out-boxed the Mexican fighter.

He did the same against Lopez when he won that world title fight.

Shiro has had some close battles but always comes out on the winning side of things by the time it’s all said and done. I expect that trend to continue this Friday.

Does Taconing Have a Chance to Upset?

I believe Taconing has a puncher’s chance, but Shiro is the better fighter. He also has the height and reach advantage. All three of Taconing’s losses have come via decision, and I believe that will be the case this weekend. In his 32 professional fights, Taconing has never been knocked out or stopped inside the distance. I don’t see that happening in this fight. I do expect a competitive bout, but Shiro will come away the winner and remain the champion.

Boxing Bet: Ken Shiro (N/A)

Rob Brant (25-1, 17 KOs) vs. Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs)

  • Rob Brant (-350)
  • Ryota Murata (+250)

In Brant’s last six fights, he was the betting favorite in all but one of them. The one where he was an underdog was against Murata in their first fight last October. Brant was a large underdog at +350 odds.

For Murata, he comes in as the underdog for the rematch, which is a new role for him. In his last seven fights, Murata was a triple-digit betting favorite. Furthermore, the lowest odds he had during that stretch was -250 against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.

Unfortunately, their first encounter was Murata’s first loss of his career.

For this fight, I don’t see value with Brant, but I do believe Murata is worthy of a flier. He was the champ and a large favorite in their first battle. Additionally, Brant has to travel to Murata’s home country of Japan for this rematch.

Brant vs. Murata Preview

  Robert Brant Ryota Murata
Age 28 33
Height 6’ 6’
Reach 70.5” 72.5”
Total Fights 26 33
Record 25-1 14-2
Knockouts 17 11

Murata hasn’t fought since last October when he lost to Brant, which was his second title defense. He won the belt by defeating N’Jikam in October 2017, which was also a rematch. Seeing that Ryota has success in rematches, that will give him confidence heading into this week’s fight.

Murata took some time off after his loss to Brant but feels great heading into the rematch. He makes no excuses for the loss and plans on getting revenge this Friday:

“Rob Brant beat me fair and square, but I am ready to get revenge. I want to show everyone the real Ryota Murata and regain my world title in spectacular fashion. I took some time off after my last fight, but I never lost my fighting desire. In fact, I am more motivated than ever.”

Murata has a slight reach advantage and has a better KO% than Brant at 69% to 65%. It was a surprise when he lost to Brant as Murata was a large betting favorite. Additionally, Brant lost his toughest fight prior to the Murata bout, which had many pundits and fans questioning whether or not Rob could even hang with Ryota.

Not only did Brant pull off the upset, but he actually dominated Murata on his way to a UD victory (118-110, 119-109, 119-109). This rematch was part of the contract that the two men signed for their first fight.

However, while Murata took off extra time, Brant actually fought in February against the undefeated Khasan Baysangurov. Brant won that fight via TKO in the 11th round.

For his part, Brant believes it’s only fair to fight Murata in Japan since Ryota came to the United States for their first fight:

“I thought it was right — he came to the United States and gave me a shot at the title. I feel it’s right for me to go to Japan and give him a shot back. … He’s like a LeBron James-type figure over there. When we went to the press conference, there were more people than were at some of my early pro fights. I’m excited for it more than I am intimidated by it. It’s the same wherever you go. I’m really comfortable and confident wherever we’re going to be.”

Brant alluded to Murata’s star power in Japan. Ryota is the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, and Murata has proven to be very difficult to beat in his home country. Brant believes that when he defeats Murata in Japan, it will prove his full potential and skillset.

Who Wins the Main Event?

I see no reason why this fight shouldn’t go the distance once again. Both men are talented fighters, but it will be Murata that has to do more for this bout. He looked inferior to Brant in their first contest.

I happen to believe that the Japanese faithful fans will help lift Murata to victory in this contest.

I like Murata’s skillset more than Brant’s. I also like that he’s fighting in front of his fellow countrymen. Murata is the underdog, so there’s a good return on investment. I’m taking Murata to win this fight via split decision. Keep an eye on the betting lines to make sure they don’t change too much as we get closer to the fight.

Boxing Bet: Ryota Murata (+250)

Final Thoughts

If you are an early riser, then this card is a nice way to start off Friday morning. For me, I will put this event up on one monitor while I’m watching the Tour de France on another monitor.

With that said, I do believe each fight has potential for excitement. I’m interested in seeing if boxing betting sites list odds for the undercard fights. I believe there’s potential for a betting upset in the main event of the night as Murata is fighting in front of his fellow countrymen. It should be an entertaining rematch and an entertaining event with some of Japan’s top boxers being heavily featured.

Full Card for Top Rank on ESPN+ From Japan

According to ESPN, this is the advertised card for Top Rank on ESPN+ from Osaka, Japan:

  • Robert Brant vs. Ryota Murata in a 12-round WBA middleweight title fight
  • Ken Shiro vs. Jonathan Taconing in a 12-round WBC junior flyweight title fight
  • Joe Noynay vs. Satoshi Shimizu in a 12-round junior lightweight bout
Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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