ROB BRANT of Minnesota scored a big upset on October 20, as he dethroned Ryota Murata to take the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight belt. Now looking ahead to big fights in which he will try and pick up more titles, Brant, 24-1(16) says he feels his best fighting days lie ahead of him still.
Fighting in an admittedly very competitive and talent-rich division, Brant fully understands that while it is tough becoming a champion, it is even harder remaining as such.
Here Brant explains how he will stay on top:
Q: First of all, it was a great win over Ryota Murata – has it sunk in yet?
Rob Brant: “Yes, it’s getting there. It was a lifelong dream of course. It gives me more of a sense of motivation more than anything. Now that I’ve accomplished this, I want to keep it. You know, it’s hard getting it, it’s even tougher keeping it. That comes by getting back in the gym and putting in the hard work. It’s great being a champion, now I want to become THE champion.”
Q: It’s still too soon to think about who or when you may fight next?
R.B: “A little too soon, yeah (laughs). I’m not really looking at any options just yet. In a couple of weeks, I hope to have something of an idea what may be next. I’ve not heard anything from Murata or from any of his people [regarding a rematch]. I think he would need time himself, that he wouldn’t come straight back for an immediate rematch; he’d need time to make the adjustments of course.”
Q: You acknowledge how tough it is to stay as champion, explain how you will do it?
R.B: “Basically by sticking with the right formula, the formula we’ve been using. I have to maintain focus, my strength of mind. I get in the gym and I just look at the next assignment, each next opponent. I make sure I get as familiar as is possible with each fighter, each opponent.”
Q: There are some fine fighters at middleweight. Who do you rate as the best right now, aside from yourself?
R.B: “I’m a fan of Danny Jacobs. I used to look up to him as a young man, even playing the video games with Jacobs on. I learnt a lot from him and I guess one day that’s a fight I’ll be looking to get. In terms of all-round talent, I’d say Jacobs is the best. And absolutely I want to fight the best, all these guys. Fighters like Jacobs, who I used to just watch at home on T.V, they are all potential opponents now. The more I look at these fighters, these other champions, the more I want what they have. The more I want to fight them. And I want to please the fans and the writers. It’s tough juggling it at times, pleasing everyone. But just like any fighter, I only want to fight the best.”
Q: You threw so many punches in the Murata fight – well over 1,200. Will there now be an expectancy from fans for you to be so incredibly active in every fight you have?
R.B: “Probably, yes, unfortunately. But not all fighters allow it so easily. Murata, he stood there and allowed me to get off, to get set. Other fighters, they have a different rhythm, they don’t all allow that. But I do want to remain an active fighter in my fights, yes, that’s my goal. I want to keep a good work-rate going. We’ll see how each upcoming opponent reacts.”
Q: Would you have any interest in fighting Billy Joe Saunders, what with all that’s gone on with him?
R.B: “That he’s no longer a champion is not because he lost a fight in the ring. He used, what, a nasal spray? I think he’ll be back, and sooner rather than later. He’s a very good fighter. And I think that when he does come back, he won’t be looking to go the WBO route. So, certainly, he’s a possibility for me in the future and yeah, he’s a very accomplished fighter.”
Q: You have lost just once, on points to Juergen Braehmer up at super-middleweight. Will you stay at middleweight for the foreseeable future?
R.B: “Yes, no doubt. Middleweight is where I feel comfortable, very comfortable. I don’t struggle to make the middleweight limit, I don’t have to dry out or lose any fluids or anything like that. At age 28, I look forward to staying at middleweight for a good few years to come. Am I at my peak? I’d say I’m half at my peak (laughs). I can get better. I do think the best days of my career are still ahead of me.”
Q: How long have you been with your trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad?
R.B: “For around seven or eight months now. I went down to see Eddie and the rapport was just great between us. I’ve learnt so much from him. It’s really a happy medium he has – he’s great at teaching the jab, the movement side of boxing, and he’s also great with the athleticism side. He’s great at getting you to bite down, getting you to get your hands dirty. Eddie works on you getting on the inside, on throwing body punches. I won the world title with him and this relationship is definitely one that will last a long, long time.”
Q: Who were your boxing heroes growing up?
R.B: “Sugar Ray Leonard I always liked. My favourite to watch was Gerald McClellan. The G-Man was a very explosive puncher of course and he was also very athletic. It was indeed a sad thing that happened to him [in the ill-fated Nigel Benn fight]. I want to give the fans more good and exciting fights myself. I don’t really pay much attention to what the odds-makers say [before a fight]. I tune all that out and I just make sure I have tunnel-vision ahead of each and every fight I have.”