Monday, October 23, 2017  |


Ref bungles Murata-Sandoval knockout in Japan

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

A bizarre scene played out on the undercard of one of Japan’s year-end boxing cards in Tokyo.

Ryota Murata (12-0, 9 knockouts), the 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist from Nara, Japan, found the target on Mexico City’s Bruno Sandoval (19-2-1, 15 KOs) in the third round with a shotgun right hand that stunned him before a right hand behind the ear sent him flat on his back with his eyes wide open.

Japanese referee Yuji Fukuchi, a 15-year veteran of officiating according to Boxrec, tried to lift Sandoval’s limp body off the canvas by his arms. Sandoval rose up slightly before falling back down again when Fukuchi tried to wipe his gloves.

Fukuchi then started to count, and Sandoval again attempted to rise but fell for a third time. Fukuchi completed the count of 10 just as Sandoval’s face hit the canvas.

Murata, who scored his fourth knockout win of 2016, could only smile and raise his gloves as the absurd scene played out.

Sandoval, who, at 25, is five years younger than Murata, had never been stopped before.

Murata is promoted by Teiken Promotions and Top Rank and is rated in the top five of all four major sanctioning bodies.

(READ: Ryota Murata looks for big opportunities at middleweight)

In the main event, Naoya Inoue retained his WBO junior bantamweight title with a sixth-round stoppage of Kohei Kono, while IBF junior flyweight titleholder Akira Yaegashi stopped Samartlek Kokietgym in the 12th round for his second successful defense.

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  • The Black Mamba

    “You’re still alive! Get up! This is Japan!”

  • D. Gambino

    Here it is to watch. I wish we had some more replays from the other angles.

  • Nick Bannister

    Does the ref think it’s a slip but that he’s playing for time as he is also hurt? Not that it would be the right action anyway, but it would make a semblance of sense. Otherwise it’s just incompetence of the highest order.

    Also, is that he most times anyone has ever tried and failed to rise from a knockdown?

  • Teddy Reynoso

    He is still semi conscious. The ref helped him to his feet so that Murata could cold cock him for a more impressive KO win. That’s the only logical explanation and the case is not uncommon.

  • ceylon mooney

    dyin to see
    murata step up. got a feeling folks in the top 5 aint gonna line up to fight him. would like to see him step to ndam or another lower top 10.

    • Ten Count Toronto

      Looks good, but his pro record is as lighter than that of the Texiera kid who blew out like a candle against Stevens. He is somewhat more vetted through amateur competition but they are biringing him along rather slowly considering his age, he doesn;t have the same time horizon as Kytrov. He may be missing out on a crucial time window.

      • ceylon mooney

        i think he became
        pro around 30 or real close to it.

        he wants BJS next, but no way. uh uh. stevens aint skeered. if lemieux ends up as gatekeeper hed prolly do it, but thatd b a coupla years away.

        down the road
        alvarez would be the ultimate mexico-japan rivalry, assuming mursta fights to thentop of 160.

        so far he looks frickin great. i hope hes as good as he looks. think hell end up a top 5 guy if he can score good opponents.

  • kiowhatta

    What comes to mind is corruption. It’s not unheard of for a ref to cop a quid in order to favour a particular fighter.
    I’ve seen some farcical refereeing, the worst I’d have to say was the Taylor Chavez stoppage.

  • ceylon mooney

    just watched this. weird, strange, makes no sense at all.

  • Ten Count Toronto

    I think Teddy’s theory about the ref possibly perceiving a slip is the most logical way to make sense of his actions. Another possibility is that he was convinced Sandoval took a dive. Even in such cases it’s both bizarre & questionable to grab the fighters arms and try to pull him up while he’s still on his back.

    All other explanations are completely dependent on the premise that the referee was either intoxicated on having a clinical episode of confusion or dementia.

  • Jody Clause

    Weird. Weird weird weird.

  • Teddy Reynoso

    Murata hit him with at least two hard blows but Sandoval acted as if he had been struck twice by a baseball bat. Acted is the key word. But it was some ham acting. Murata himself was not convinced that he had hurt him that bad. In any case what the referee did was still wrong. If Sandoval was indeed shaken badly, his action prevented the Mexican from recovering if given the mandatory 8 count. If Sandoval took the dive to avoid a real knockout, there was no point in forcing him to stand up and continue fighting.