It's rare that Japan gets to host one of the biggest and most anticipated fights of the year, but that's exactly what we get this Saturday as we finally get to see the Middleweight mega clash between Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) and Ryota Murata (16-2, 13). The bout will not just be a huge bout for Japan, but also the boxing world, and a huge Middleweight unification bout, as Golovkin risks his IBF title against WBA "Super" champion Murata. It is also the culmination of years of chasing by Murata and his team for a super fight, with Golovkin having been on Murata's wish list for the better part of a decade, along with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Whilst the bout has long been spoken about in Japan it often seemed out of reach for Murata and Teiken. That was until last year when a deal was finally agreed to have the bout in Japan, in December. Sadly though the best laid plans of Teiken were unable to go ahead when the Omicron variant of Coronavirus was discovered, leading to the Japanese government closing the borders and preventing Golovkin for travelling for the bout, and forcing it to be postponed until this coming weekend. Despite the delay the bout remains one of the most notable bouts on the schedule, and one that promises genuine fireworks. It also, could, end up being the final time we see one, if not both, of these men in the ring.
Of the two fighters the more well known, by far, is Golovkin. "GGG" has been a fixture on the global boxing scene as both and amateur and a professional. As an amateur he was a stellar fighter who won a whole host of notable honours. He was a World Championship gold medal winner, a multi-time World Cup winner, an Asian Championship gold medal winner winner and an Olympic silver medal winner. In over 350 amateur bouts he only suffered a handful of losses, and turned professional with a lot of expectation on his shoulders.
Sadly the early part of Golovkin's professional career was somewhat wasted, as he was tucked away on Universum cards in Germany. When he finally left Universum there was a delay in him really getting his career going due to contractual issues with Universum and it wasn't until 2012, aged 30, that he finally got a chance to fight in the US. By that point Golovkin was 23-0 (20) and had held the WBA "regular" title for almost 2 years. Since 2012 however he has been one of the faces of boxing, with regular bouts in the US and wins over fighters like Gabe Rosado, Daniel Geale, David Lemieux, Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, as well as two sensational battles with Saul Alvarez, which saw Golovkin going 0-1-1 against the Mexican icon.
We don't think we really need to go into Golovkin's style too much, but for those few who haven't followed him through the years, the Kazakh is a massive punching fighter, who applies intelligent, constant and intense pressure. He combines an impressive work rate, with very heavy hands, an incredibly chin, and incredibly good technical skills. Looking for flaws with Golovkin isn't as tough as it once was. In the past his defense was his major flaw, though given his chin it perhaps wasn't much of a flaw. Now a days though he has slowed significantly, his footwork isn't what it once was, although he was never quick he has seemingly slowed down with the bouts against Steve Rolls and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, in 2019, suggesting cracks were showing. Also, at the age of 40 and having been inactive since December 2020, it's hard to know what he still has in the tank, and what he can still do in the ring. He looked great against Kamil Szeremeta, but Szeremeta offered very little and was stopped again just 6 months later, by Jamie Munguia, before being held to a draw at the end of 2021 by Nizar Trimech. It could well be that that bout flattered Golovkin, rather than showed a resurgence from the Kazakh.
As for Murata, like Golovkin he was also a very good amateur, and had a style suited to the professional ranks. Among his amateur accomplishments are a world championship silver medal and an Olympic gold medal. Unlike Golovkin though he wasn't a major star on the unpaid ranks for long, and only really had a stretch of a year or two where he made a huge amount of noise, before eventually turning professional in 2013. As a professional he moved pretty quickly, beating the OPBF champion on debut, and scored a string of solid wins to begin his career. His first 10 opponents had a combined 188-39-10 record, showing the strength of his early competition, and he was fighting in 10 rounders as early as his 4th bout. Sadly though his performance were somewhat hit and miss, and there was times where he seemed to go through the motions, rather than show what he can really do. When he has put his foot on the gas, and things have clicked, he has shone, such as his stoppage wins against Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, Rob Brant and Steven Butler.
As mentioned, when it comes to Murata's performances they have been hit and miss. At times he can look plodding, ponderous, and almost disinterested. This was seen in 2018 when he was dominated by Rob Brant. It seemed, in many ways, he had over-looked Brant, and had come in incredibly flat. When he's on form however he's a big, strong, powerful, pressure fighter, who uses a tight high guard, a stiff jab, and a huge ramrod right hand to break opponents down. His chin is solid, his work rate is decent, and physically he's a very scary fighter. He's not the busiest, or the sharpest, but he can change tempo really well, and when he lets his combinations go he can look brutal, and has dismantled very solid fighters. He is made for TV, with his offensive prowess and his defensive flaws alongside his brutal thudding power, though often looks a bit basic. Aged 36 he'll know that this is his likely his last chance to make a mark on the wider boxing world, and a win over Golovkin would certainly do that, but he has also been very inactive, having not fought since the end of 2019, something that could really hurt him here.
In their primes, there is no debating the result of this bout. Golovkin would win every time. But neither man is in their prime anymore. Golovkin is now 40, he has visible slowed in bouts, and although the much better technical boxer, his slowing feet might allow Murata to force his will on the bout more than many would expect. Likewise Murata isn't in his prime but he's a big old brute at the division, and will trudge forward looking to use his size and strength, though might not be able to pull the trigger like a 30 or 31 year old can.
One thing is for certain. Both of these guys are aggressive. Both like to let their hands go and see defense as something that really isn't their strong point. That could lead to this becoming something of a fire fight up close and personal, with both leaning into and on top of the other man, unleashing shots and mid and close range, in a battle of machismo. If that happens we, as fans, are in for a treat, and could end up with something very special, despite both men being on the older side of things.
If Golovkin's legs are still youthful and bouncy enough, he should have enough to dictate the tempo, and control Murata at mid range and more than hold his own up close. If that happens Golovkin takes either stoppage or wide decision. If Murata can however get inside, and make this a battle of wills, he has a genuine chance of an upset, in an all out war, thanks to the age of Golovkin.
Whilst we can see a potential route to victory for Murata, we would still deem that a very big upset, and a genuine surprise. With that in mind we are expecting to see Golokin win, but go through hell to take the W in a bruising, brutal, tough, bout.
Prediction - TKO10 Golovkin
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.