Rob Brant warned Ryota Murata and his team that they should not plan ahead, and he was right.
Brant, the heavy underdog, schooled Murata in a lopsided decision to win a secondary middleweight world title before 2,782 on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card at the Park MGM in Las Vegas.
In winning by scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110, Brant destroyed the possibility of a fight between Murata and former unified world champion Gennady Golovkin, which their handlers had been discussing for the spring at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, where Murata is a national hero.
Brant busted up Murata's right eye and dominated the fight from start to finish, overwhelming the 2012 Olympic gold medalist with his punch output.
According to CompuBox statistics, Brant landed 356 of 1,262 punches (28 percent) while Murata connected with 180 of 774 (23 percent).
"This is one of the best moments of my life," Brant said. "I wasn't thinking about punch output. I was thinking about winning."
Murata (14-2, 11 KOs), 32, was making the second defense of his 160-pound belt in his third appearance in the United States. But he will be going home empty-handed.
"This was a great middleweight championship fight," said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who co-promotes Murata. "Both fighters showed tremendous heart. Congratulations to the new champion. He deserved the win."
Brant (24-1, 16 KOs), 28, who is from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Dallas, remained unbeaten as a middleweight. His lone loss came last October, when he moved up to super middleweight to participate in the World Boxing Super Series and was humbled in a one-sided decision loss to aging former light heavyweight titlist Juergen Braehmer in Germany.
Brant, in his first fight with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad as his trainer, won his next fight in a tuneup and vowed going into the Murata fight that he had learned his lesson against Braehmer, promising to stay busy in every round and avoid any mental lapses. He did just that and made himself a player in a very lucrative division led by unified world champion Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin, newly crowned titlist Demetrius Andrade, Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
"It was a huge win. This is a game changer for Rob and because of how he won it," said Greg Cohen, Brant's promoter. "It was a virtuoso performance. He dominated from the first round to the last round. Murata takes a great shot. Rob hit him with everything. Rob really, really looked like a champion."
What Brant does next will depend on Murata. Cohen said that their side agreed to a rematch clause even though it was a mandatory bout and they didn't have to do that.
"It was not mandated but agreed to it so if they want the rematch they can have it," Cohen said. "It was that good [of a] performance that I don't know if Murata is going to want a rematch, but we'd be happy to go to Japan to fight him again. I think the outcome will be the same except that Rob would just have another zero added to his paycheck. Murata showed he has a heart of a champion and Rob just wants to fight the biggest names and fight for the most amount of money."
In the co-feature, junior welterweight up-and-comer Maxim "Mad Max" Dadashev overcame a game performance from former lightweight world titlist Antonio DeMarco to win a unanimous decision, 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
Dadashev (12-0, 10 KOs), 28, a Russia native fighting out of Oxnard, California, swept the last three rounds on all three judges' scorecards to secure the win against DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KOs), 32, of Mexico.
"This was a great learning experience for me," Dadashev said. "DeMarco is a true champion, and he fought with great heart and determination."
Also on the card, featherweight prospect and two-time Olympian Michael Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs), 26, of Northern Ireland, broke down Nicola Cipolletta (14-7-2, 4 KOs), 30, of Italy, and stopped him with an accumulation of blows as referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 1 minute, 55 seconds of the seventh round.
Conlan backed up Cipolletta for most of the fight until he succumbed from Conlan's powerful body attack.
"When you fight a guy who is negative and trying to survive, those guys are the hardest guys to look good against," Conlan said. "He was just negative. Now, I want real opponents. I want top-10, top-15 opponents. These are the guys who are going to make me look good. These are the guys who are going to bring out the best of my technical ability. When you see guys trying to survive, it's a lot easier to survive than fight it out."
Conlan is due to fight next on the undercard of the Josh Warrington-Carl Frampton featherweight world title fight on Dec. 22 (ESPN+) in Manchester, England.