IBF & WBA Middleweight Unification: Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin VS Ryota Murata
Saturday, April 9 – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama (Japan)
The Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, will have the eyes of the boxing world upon it this weekend. This is the venue that will see IBF Middleweight Champion Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin take on WBA ‘Super Champion’ Ryota Murata in a bout that will change the trajectory of the career of each man.
GGG (41-1-1) needs this win to set up a rematch with the only fighter to have ever bested him in Canelo Alvarez. That bout would be for the undisputed crown at 168 pounds, with Alvarez currently holding all the gold in the super middleweight division. If, howeverMurata (16-2) can upset the Kazakh superstar, then the entire weight class would be thrown on its head with the Japanese fighter suddenly becoming a worthwhile opponent for a host of quality matches.
It is hard to know exactly what GGG will look like in this fight. At his best – and his best is 36 KOs in 41 wins – he is a dominant punch that was once the most feared pound-for-pound striker in the game. Golovkin, however, didn’t fight at all in 2021 for Covid reasons and he is 15 months removed from a ho-hum decision against Kamil Szeremeta back in December 2020. GGG may have stopped his Polish opponent in the fourth round, but he looked rusty and slower than we have become used to before the stoppage occurred. Had his fight been with anyone more capable than mandatory (and little known) challenger Szeremeta he could have been in real trouble.
Murata is a fighter that can give GGG trouble. He has 13 knockouts in his 16 wins and his camp has been pushing the fact that Murata is getting GGG at a point in his career where he is over the hill. Add in that it is easy to think that GGG could be overlooking this one with that third fight against Carnelo (their first fight was a controversial draw) and there is a portion of the boxing media thinking that Murata has a real chance. Having said that, the 36-year-old Murata is no spring chicken either and if he cannot take the punching power of GGG then he will fold like so many have before him.
I like GGG to win here. I think he is vulnerable to a younger and sharper opponent, but Murata really isn’t either of those things. He has actually been out of action for even longer than Golovkin (since 2019) as Japanese restrictions during the pandemic were as tough as just about anywhere in the world. One market I might be interested in playing is GGG to win by decision. That pays 5/2 with BetXchange compared to 6/10 for him to win by knockout. If you are in the camp that thinks a little sharpness may have been lost over the previous 15 months, then taking the knockout heavy Golovkin to win on points instead looks like a decent gamble.