Gennadiy Golovkin’s career is in danger of ending with a whimper rather than a bang. Can GGG get back to anything approaching his best against Ryota Murata in Saturday’s WBA Super and IBF middleweight title showdown? Luke G. Williams previews the action.
This Saturday IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) travels to the Super Arena in Saltama, Japan to face WBA ‘super’ titlist Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) in a 160lbs showdown that will surely tell us how much the once fearsome but now undoubtedly diminished Kazakh has left.
The last couple of years have been frustrating ones for admirers of GGG, who has just passed his 40th birthday. The dynamic boxer-puncher once looked destined for serious consideration as one of the all-time great middleweights, but is now in danger of becoming one of the sport’s ‘what if’ stories.
Even taking into account the disruption engendered by the pandemic, the fact that Golvkin – once among the most active of champions – has fought just once since 2019 is desperately disappointing. Furthermore, he has had just three contests since his second showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2018, dispatching the overmatched Steve Rolls in four, going life and death with Sergiy Derevyanchenko in a fight some thought the Ukrainian won, and then looking rusty while defeating the hopelessly out of his depth Kamil Szeremeta in his most recent bout back in December 2020. In contrast, Canelo has fought seven times in the same timespan, with an eighth contest scheduled for next month.
Should GGG defeat Murata, DAZN are dangling the carrot of a potential ‘trilogy fight’ against the Mexican, although there are few sane judges in boxing who would give Golovkin a prayer of succeeding in gaining his first win against the current P4P king, having hitherto been denied by egregious judging in one contest and then by Canelo’s masterful adaptations in the other.
Although some sources claim the old rivals have already agreed a deal to fight on 17 September should they both prevail in their next fights (Canelo faces Dmitry Bivol on 7 May), Golovkin has made it clear that he is not looking past Murata. “It’s too early to talk about this,” he said, this week of the prospect of facing Canelo again. “I think the time will come and we’ll be happy to discuss that, but this is premature. I think we should focus on the fight in front of us.”
Golovkin must certainly beware of Murata’s pedigree. Although the 36-year-old’s pro career has been somewhat stop-start, he won gold at middleweight in the 2012 London Olympics, surpassing GGG’s silver medal achievement in the 2004 Athens games, and possesses more than decent fundamentals, including an apparently solid chin, good jab and excellent power. At just over 6 foot and with a 75” reach he also possesses physical advantages over Golovkin, who is around 5 foot 10” with a 70” reach.
Add to that the fact that Murata has heart and will be buoyed by fervent – albeit scrupulously polite – home support and many of the ingredients for an upset seem to be in place.
The man from Nara certainly seems confident that he is facing a diminished Golovkin having said in the build-up to the fight: “I think he is past his prime. How I perform my strong points in the ring will be important.”
If Murata himself was younger or more active – his last fight was in December 2019 – then his chances of victory would be appreciably higher. However, unless GGG has faded even more dramatically than his fans fear he should have enough residual class in the tank to prevail.
Murata is not the most elusive of targets, and GGG still has one of the best jabs in the business and this could prove the crucial factor.
Golovkin on points is the pick, with Murata proving his guts but not doing quite enough to secure glory.