Saturday night on ESPN+, boxing fans witnessed the official arrival of lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla (19-0, 16 KOs). It was no secret that Muratalla was bubbling as a prospect, but he needed a fight that would challenge him physically and force fans who weren’t aware of him to pay attention. The challenger was Diego Torres Nunez (18-1, 17 KOs), and up to last night, he was undefeated and only had one fight go the distance since turning pro. Top Rank is known for this kind of matchmaking, so they could gauge whether they have something or not.
It was clear from the start that the 26-year-old Muratalla was ready for this moment. He was composed and wasn’t reckless with his offense. The great Robert Garcia, who trains him, had a clear-cut game plan: be smart, break him down, and finish him late in the fight. That’s exactly what happened, and if it wasn’t the precise power shots from Muratalla that caught your eye, it was his solid footwork and positioning throughout the fight. Muratalla’s composure reminded you of a seasoned veteran, and when it was time to finish Nunez, he did so patiently, which is what you look for in someone who will soon challenge for a title.
Give us that slo-mo 🍿 pic.twitter.com/8mhRwgMpqp— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) November 5, 2023
After the fight, Muratalla said, “I’m here to put on a show. Every day, I’m working hard to get these opportunities. And I’m showing out.” Muratalla continued, “We put in the hard work, and I’m here to take out these opponents. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I’m here to take whoever. Any champion. I hope my next fight is a title fight.”
Although he is ambitious and wants a title shot next, Top Rank knows what they’re doing, and he’s being prepped as part of a crop of fighters who will contend for titles once unified champion Devin Haney vacates. Haney has a fight with Regis Prograis in a few weeks, and depending on the outcome, it could lead to the domino effect at lightweight. Once that happens, Top Rank is positioned to contend for most, if not all, of the titles at 135, so Muratalla must be patient.
Muratalla is ready for all the smoke and all the belts. pic.twitter.com/WP4CpqtqOE— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) November 5, 2023
Who could Muratalla fight next if not for a title? I asked X’s favorite matchmaker, Boog Williams (@Ovajay), who recommends Maxi Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs), which isn’t a bad fight. Hughes is coming off a majority decision loss to George Kambosos Jr. (21-2, 10 KOs) in July, so that is a makeable fight. Another potential opponent could be William Zepeda (29-0, 25 KOs), but that sounds like a matchup that would be made later on with more at stake.
One thing is for sure: Muratalla has made his introduction to the main stage and the lightweight contender picture. He needed a big win, and on Saturday night, he earned a TKO victory over Nunez and sent a message to the rest of the lightweight division that he is here and will be tough to deal with. Top Rank has another contender, and the potential matchups in 2024 is getting more interesting by the day.