Murata defeats Blandamura to retain WBA middleweight title

Cristofer Rosales of Nicaragua celebrates with his second after defeating Japan's Daigo Higa during a WBC flyweight title bout at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Cristofer Rosales of Nicaragua celebrates after defeating Japan's Daigo Higa during a WBC flyweight title bout at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata, right, delivers his right to Italian challenger Emanuele Blandamura during their WBA middleweight title bout in Yokohama near Tokyo, Sunday, April 15, 2018. Murata defended his title by technical knockout. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Cristofer Rosales of Nicaragua, left , and Japan's Daigo Higa exchange their blows during a WBC flyweight title bout at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Sunday, April 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Cristofer Rosales of Nicaragua, right, lands his right to Japan's Daigo Higa during a WBC flyweight title bout at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Sunday, April 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata celebrates after defeating Italian challenger Emanuele Blandamura during their WBA middleweight title bout in Yokohama near Tokyo, Sunday, April 15, 2018. Murata defended his title by technical knockout. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata, right, delivers his right to Italian challenger Emanuele Blandamura during their WBA middleweight title bout in Yokohama near Tokyo, Sunday, April 15, 2018. Murata defeated his title by technical knockout. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Ryota Murata of Japan successfully defended his WBA middleweight title on Sunday with an eighth-round technical knockout of Italian Emanuele Blandamura.

Murata dominated from the outset at Yokohama Arena and sent his opponent to the canvas in the closing seconds of the eighth, when the referee stopped the fight.

Murata, the London Olympic gold medalist, improved to 14-1 and became the first Japanese fighter to successfully defend a world championship in the middleweight class.

Blandamura dropped to 27-3.

In an earlier bout, Nicaragua's Cristofer Rosales was crowned the new World Boxing Council flyweight champion after beating former titleholder Daigo Higa of Japan with a ninth-round TKO.

Higa was stripped of the title the previous day after failing to make weight.

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