While every fighter has reason to want to win every fight, Gennadiy Golovkin enters Saturday’s bout with Ryota Murata with millions upon millions more reasons than most. As long as Golovkin can beat Murata and unify the IBF and WBA middleweight championships, he’s set for a massive trilogy bout with Canelo Alvarez to end the year. That, of course, assumes that Alvarez is also able to beat Dmitry Bivol on May 7.
Murata is far from a pushover and should not be treated as a mere bump in the road en route to Golovkin vs. Alvarez 3. Also, Murata has the home-ring advantage, with the fight taking place from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan (5:10 a.m. ET, DAZN).
In 18 professional fights, Murata has suffered two losses, though he decisively avenged both. Murata lost a fight for the WBA regular title, a secondary belt for the sanctioning body, to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in May 2017. That October, Murata avenged that split decision by forcing N’Jikam’s corner to throw in the towel after seven rounds.
His second defeat played out much the same way, with Rob Brant taking a decision in October 2018 only for Murata to come back in their rematch the following July with a relentless attack of power punches that forced a second-round stoppage.
Golovkin rode the momentum of 37 straight wins to open his career, most by knockout, to land his first fight with Alvarez. Despite it seeming Golovkin had done enough to get the win, the fight ended in a split draw, with acceptable scorecards of 115-113 for Golovkin and a 114-114 draw offset by a baffling 118-110 card was turned in for Alvarez.
The second fight, which was just as good, if not better than the first, also saw controversy. Alvarez took home a disputed majority decision.
That opportunity finally came when it was announced that Alvarez had signed a multi-fight deal with DAZN in which the second bout would be with Golovkin as long as both men got past their next tests.
For now, all the pressure is on Golovkin. Beat a tough, younger foe, unify a pair of titles and earn the fight he’s so badly wanted for years.
Golovkin vs. Murata card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
|Gennadiy Golovkin (c) -490||Ryota Murata (c) +370||WBA & IBF middleweight titles|
|Shuichiro Yoshino -175||Masayuki Ito +150||Lightweight|
|Junto Nakatani (c) -2000||Ryota Yamauchi +1000||WBO flyweight title|
|Kazuki Anaguchi||Ryuji Yamamoto||Super bantamweight|
|Hiroka Amaki||Taiga Kato||Welterweight|
Golovkin is still a tremendous fighter, even if more and more moments have shown in recent fights where he may be slipping just a bit from his absolute best. Both men share similar styles, pressuring and throwing heavy power punches. That said, even with Murata being a talented fighter with power, Golovkin has the better overall skills. One red flag, however, is that Murata has no hesitation to throw to the body and Golovkin was badly bothered by the body work of Derevyanchenko in their very close fight in October 2019. Murata’s key to success beyond potentially landing a fight-ending punch would be to work Golovkin’s body at every opportunity.
Still, Golovkin is the smart pick here simply based on likely still being better at 40 than Murata has ever been in his career. Expect some fireworks and a surprisingly close fight, but one that Golovkin can eventually get the better of. Pick: Gennadiy Golovkin via UD