Golovkin vs Murata: Middleweight's unification set to deliver fireworks in Japan

GGG is fighting in Japan for the first time in his professional career...

One of boxing´s biggest attractions returns to the squared circle later this month as Gennadiy "GGG" Golovkin puts his IBF and IBO world titles on the line against WBA (Super) middleweight titleholder Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs).

Scheduled for December 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Golovkin, (41-1-1, 36 KOs) makes his comeback having fought just once in the past two years, that a seventh-round stoppage win over the previously unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta last December.

Now just four months shy of his 40th birthday, the two-time middleweight champion and Ring Magazine's No. 1-rated middleweight for the past seven years brings his "big drama show" to Japan for the first time against the 35-year-old Murata who, despite his status as WBA super champion, makes his first step up into a genuine world-class level.

With only 18 fights on a somewhat limited record, the ageing Japanese fighter only turned pro in 2013 but does boast an extensive amateur pedigree having claimed a gold medal for his country at the London Olympics in 2012. Murata finished his amateur career with an impressive record of 119-18.

While the Japanese fighter has suffered two points decision defeats, he did manage to avenge both losses via knockout having first been outpointed by Hassan N'Dam back in 2017, and Rob Brant in 2018.

For GGG though, this fight represents his chance to add yet another world title to a vast collection and despite his advancing years, the brilliant Kazakh has yet to show any real sign of wear and tear with the only loss on his record a highly controversial majority decision defeat at the hands of pound for pound king, Canelo Alvarez in 2018.

What's been said?

An always amiable Golovkin offered plenty of respect to his Japanese opponent when discussing the upcoming bout.

"I am really excited to be bringing the Big Drama Show to Japan, a country where boxing is very popular," said Golovkin. "Ryota Murata has been an outstanding champion. It is going to be a special night when we meet in the ring to unify our titles. We are going to give the fans a great fight."

The feeling was very much mutual from Murata who offered generous praise for the veteran champion.

"I feel that my entire amateur and professional boxing career has been a preparation for this fight against Gennadiy Golovkin. This fight will determine my place in the middleweight division and boxing history," said Murata. "Gennadiy Golovkin has long been the standard-bearer of the middleweight division.

"To me, he is still undefeated. I have the highest respect for him. It has been almost two years since my last fight, because of the pandemic, but I have put that time to good use, working very hard with my trainers on improving my physical conditioning and adding more power to my punches.

"I am so proud Japan is hosting this fight. It is a great honour for me."

Where and when?

GGG Rolls

The bout will headline on December 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan

What's on the line?

Plenty. Golovkin will put his IBF and IBO middleweight titles on the line with Murata's WBA Super belt also up for grabs. The winner of the bout will be a three-belt holding unified middleweight world champion.

Where can I watch it?

This middleweight unification bout can be viewed exclusively live on DAZN (excluding Japan and Kazakhstan).

Tale of the Tape

Name: Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin

Nickname: GGG ("Triple G")

Age: 39

Residence: Santa Monica, California

Pre-fight record: 41-1-1

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 5 ft 10 1/2 in

Reach: 70 in

Rounds boxed: 221

KO percentage: 84%

Name: Ryota Murata

Age: 35

Residence: Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan

Pre-fight record: 16-2

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 6 ft

Reach: 75 in

Rounds boxed: 111

KO percentage: 72%

Where's the value?

Nearing his 40th year and with over 15 years of experience as a professional, one has to wonder just how much longer Golovkin will be able to continue as an elite-level fighter.

Having dominated the middleweight ranks for the best part of a decade, GGG remains one of the finest fighters in the world today but father time calls for all men eventually. Will it be on this night?

Murata is no spring chicken himself and it would be a massive upset if the Japanese fighter was to snatch the IBF and IBO world title´s from the Kazakh's grasp.

As such, GGG comes into the bout as a strong 1/2 odds on favourite with Planet Sport Bet. Murata is available at 7/2 to score the shock victory.

Ultimately, it's hard to make a great case for Murata here. While he is a WBA champion, he has yet to fight an opponent of any real stature and the hard-hitting Golovkin is unlikely to have faded to a point where an upset victory becomes a realistic prospect.

Of course, the end must come for all great champions and while GGG remains a supremely skilled operator, there can be little doubt that at, as he pushes 40, his best days are surely a distant image in his rearview mirror.

Indeed, Murata, while vastly less experienced, does at least bring a height and reach advantage into the bout and while hardly young at 35, 18 professional contests suggest there should be plenty in the Japanese man´s gas tank.

Still, GGG has been one of the finest champions operating in the sport over the past decade and he remains a major force, even at the backend of his glittering career.

As such, we're confidently backing the veteran Kazakh to bring another big drama show to Japanese shores with a points decision victory perhaps the likeliest outcome given both GGG's relative lack of activity and Murata's durability with the Olympic Gold medalist having yet to be stopped in his professional career.

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