Ryota Murata vs. Steven
Butler Headlines World Championship Tripleheader Monday From
Two days before Christmas, American fight fans will be
treated to a special fistic stocking stuffer, a world
championship tripleheader plus the return of the former
pound-for-pound king and future Hall of Famer, Roman
In the main event, from Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan,
2012 Japanese Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata will defend
his WBA middleweight world title against Canadian challenger
Steven Butler. The co-feature will pit IBF flyweight world
champion Moruti Mthalane against former three-weight world
champion Akira Yaegashi.
World title bout number three will see Kenshiro “The Amazing
Boy” Teraji defend his WBC light flyweight world title for
the seventh time against former interim world champion Randy
Former four-division world champion Gonzalez, on the
comeback trail, will fight Filipino underdog Diomel Diocos
in an eight-rounder at junior bantamweight.
This special, early-morning edition of “Breakfast and
Boxing” will stream live Monday on ESPN+, the leading
multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 3:55 a.m.
ET/12:55 a.m. PT.
Murata (15-2, 12 KOs) vs. Butler (28-1-1, 24 KOs)
Murata regained the WBA middleweight world title in July
from Rob Brant, the man who defeated him last October via
unanimous decision in a shocking upset. Murata first won the
belt in October 2017 with a knockout over Hassan N’Dam, then
defended the belt the following April over Emanuele
Blandamura. He stopped Brant in two rounds in their rematch,
reversing the tide and setting himself up for potential
superfights should he win. Butler, from Montreal, is 10-0
with nine knockouts since the lone defeat of his career.
This will be only his second bout outside of Canada.
Mthalane (38-2, 25 KOs) vs. Yaegashi (28-6, 16 KOs)
Mthalane, South Africa’s only current world champion, is one
of the most accomplished boxers in his nation’s history. A
two-time IBF flyweight world champion who first held the
title from 2009-2014, he regained the title last July with a
decision over the then-unbeaten Muhammad Waseem on the Manny
Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse undercard in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. He last fought May 13 in Tokyo, outlasting
hometown favorite Masayuki Kuroda over 12 rounds. The
36-year-old Yaegashi, who has won world titles at
minimumweight, light flyweight and flyweight, is a noted
action star who defended the lineal flyweight crown three
times and was the victor in the 2011 ESPN.com of the Year
against Pornsawan Porpramook. He has won three in a row
since losing his IBF light flyweight title via shocking
first-round stoppage loss to Milan Melindo.
Teraji (16-0, 9 KOs) vs. Petalcorin (31-3-1, 23 KOs)
Teraji was a Japanese amateur standout who won the title he
currently holds in just his 10th pro fight. Apart from a
majority decision over Pedro Guevara in his first title
defense, he has been a dominant champion, notching four KOs
in his last five defenses. Petalcorin has won two in a row
since a spirited effort in a failed October 2018 title
challenge against IBF light flyweight world champion Felix
Alvarado, who was signed to fight Teraji in a title
unification tilt before pulling out with a reported lung
Gonzalez (47-2, 39 KOs) vs. Diocos (14-5-3, 4 KOs)
Gonzalez, one of the greatest lighter-weight fighters in
boxing history, was atop many pound-for-pound rankings
before losing a highly controversial decision to Srisaket
Sor Rungvisai in March 2017. He was knocked out in their
rematch less than six months later, but he rebounded with a
fifth-round knockout over Moises Fuentes in September 2018.
He won his first world title at 105 pounds in 2008 and
rolled through the competition in four weight classes with
wins over the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Brian
Viloria, Carlos Cuadras, Edgar Sosa and Yaegashi. Diocos, a
Filipino veteran, has only been stopped once as a pro.