IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in Saturday’s middleweight unification clash between Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata.
I’m seeing a real chance of Ryota Murata springing the big upset against Gennadiy Golovkin in their middleweight title bout in Japan.
Obviously, GGG has to be considered a firm favourite. His record speaks for itself. He is surely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, while Murata lost to Hassan N’Dam (admittedly on a much-disputed decision) and lost almost every round in his first meeting with Rob Brant.
Golovkin, on paper, is on a different level.
For me, though, it’s not quite that simple.
Golovkin still looks great physically, but he’s 40 years old.
I’m not sure how many people will be allowed into the arena in Saitama in the Covid 19-era, but I would expect all available seats to be sold. The crowd will be right behind Murata, trying to will him to victory,
Golovkin has been boxing professionally for 15 years and he had a long amateur career at the top level. He had two tough fights with Canelo Alvarez. The Daniel Jacobs fight wasn’t a walk in the park. GGG’s fight with Sergiy Derevyanchenko in October 2019 was a war. Derevyanchenko was landing right hands in the fight, especially in the 10th round. If GGG hadn’t dropped Derevyanchenko in the first round it would have been a majority decision.
I’m seeing value in the Betfred price of 4/1 (+400) offered on Murata.
I thought GGG was starting to show his age in the Derevyanchenko fight. The fight seemed to be slipping away from him a couple of times. In consensus scoring (where two or all three judges agree on the scoring of a round), it was 7-5 in rounds in GGG’s favour. So, Derevyanchenko almost fought Golovkin even-steven.
Let’s look at Murata. An Olympic gold medallist, of course. He’s 35 but he hasn’t taken on a lot of damage — he’s had only 16 pro fights, after all. Murata hasn’t had a fight in 27 months but this sort of inactivity isn’t all that unusual in these pandemic times.
Murata stands 6ft. He’s a big, strong middleweight. He can punch. He did lose a split decision to N’Dam but I think the boxing world knows that N’Dam was fortunate to get the nod. Murata crushed N’Dam in seven rounds in the rematch. The loss to Rob Brant now looks inexplicable. He demolished Brant in two rounds in the rematch.
Golovkin is the superior technician, obviously, but Murata knows how to fight. Murata can be a bit one-dimensional but that one dimension can be effective — steady pressure and well-placed, solid punches. There’s nothing fancy about Murata, no “special effects” as Floyd Mayweather would say. But when he’s up for a fight he can be doggedly determined and difficult to keep off.
I do have concern about Murata’s lack of defence. He can be rather easy to hit with right hands. Steven Butler was able to land right hands with ease in the opening round of their fight. But Murata has demonstrated that he has a good chin. I can’t recall ever seeing him rocked or hurt.
I think Murata is one of those fighters who needs a sense of occasion to bring out the best in him. The Murata of the N’Dam and Brant rematches was a different animal to the one who showed up for the initial meetings.
If Murata is to prevail against Golovkin he will have to fight the fight of his life and GGG will have had to have slipped somewhat from the fighter who twice fought Canelo down to the wire. Basically, the stars and planets will have to line up. Still, I just get the sense that Murata is going to rise to the occasion. I think there’s a possibility that, on the night, Murata might simply want it more.
Of course, I respect GGG enormously, but when a fighter gets to 40 or thereabouts he can lose at any time.
Whatever happens, I believe Murata will give it his all. As a straight pick I’d have to go with GGG, but at odds of +400 or better across the betting platforms, I’m taking my chances on Murata pulling off the big upset.
So, I’ve made the case for a surprise. But you might think: “I can’t go against GGG. He’s a great fighter even if he is getting on in age.”
OK, fair enough, I get that. What about other bets? Well, I think the over 9.5 rounds at a general price of 5/6 (-120) is a pretty good look. I see a long, gruelling fight here. GGG never looked like stopping Danny Jacobs or Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Murata is a tough guy who could well rise to the occasion. And I don’t think “fight goes the distance” at 2/3 (+150) is the worst idea in the world.
The bookmakers’ most likely outcome is GGG by KO/TKO at 5/8 (-160). GGG by decision is a general price of 5/2 (+250).
But what if nothing tempts you, and you’re looking for just a small, long-shot bet just to have some sort of action? Well, Murata by decision is priced at 13/2 (+650) and that isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.