Ryota Murata promotors decline to bid for Rob Brant fight; bout off

Promoter Greg Cohen won the purse bid for the fight between secondary middleweight world titleholder Ryota Murata and mandatory challenger Rob Brant on Monday, but it was in vain.

Cohen, who promotes Brant, was the only promoter to show up at the purse bid, which took place at the WBA offices in Panama City, Panama, and he won with an offer of $202,114 -- $200,000 was the minimum bid allowed. He cited Oct. 27 as the fight date with locations potentially being New York, Atlantic City, New Jersey or Minneapolis (Brant's home turf).

However, all the machinations were made for a fight that won't happen.

Murata won't participate in the bout, as co-promoters Top Rank and Teiken Boxing declined to bid. They were upset that the WBA granted Brant a 50-50 split of the winning purse bid, which is a highly unusual cut for a challenger. Typically, the split would be 70-30 in favor of the titleholder.

Although Cohen and Murata's camp held talks as the purse bid loomed, they could not reach an agreement, according to both sides.

With Murata not going through with the fight against Brant, he likely will either vacate the second-tier 160-pound title -- Gennady Golovkin holds the main WBA belt -- or be stripped.

Either way, Murata will fight on Oct. 20 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and headline a Top Rank on ESPN+ card, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.

"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 Oct. 20. That's all I can tell you," Moretti said.

Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), 32, of Japan, won the belt by seventh-round knockout of Hassan N'Dam in October in their rematch. Murat defended the title by eighth-round knockout of Emanuele Blandamura on April 14.

Brant (23-1, 16 KOs), 27, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, was the mandatory challenger for the winner of the first Murata-N'Dam fight in May 2017, but when N'Dam won a hugely controversial decision, a rematch was ordered, pushing back Brant's title shot.

At the time that the first Murata-N'Dam fight was made, it was done so with the WBA issuing a resolution stating that the winner would have to fight Brant next on a 50-50 split.

While awaiting the fight, Cohen was granted permission by the WBA to enter Brant into the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. Brant moved up one weight class and lost a lopsided decision to former world titlist Juergen Braehmer in the quarterfinals in October before returning to middleweight for a first-round knockout win over Colby Courter in a stay-busy fight in March.

"The 50-50 was agreed to by all parties, and nobody objected at the time," Cohen told ESPN from Panama City. "I can only control my actions. We've been part of this process [since] early 2017. Everybody was aware of the terms. The 50 percent has been out there. We went forward, we won the bid. It's unfortunate if they don't want to do the fight, but Rob Brant will be fighting for the WBA title in his next fight. We'd like it to be against Murata, but if it's not against Murata, it will be against the next-highest-rated available contender."

As for whom Murata will fight on Oct. 20, his opponent is not set, but Moretti said Top Rank remains in conversations with Golden Boy Promotions about a possible fight with Jason Quigley (14-0, 11 KOs), 27, of Ireland.