Gennadiy Golovkin stops Ryota Murata in nine, unifies IBF and WBA 160-pound titles
The Big Drama Show was a big hit in Japan.
After a relatively slow start, Gennadiy Golovkin found his groove and added the WBA middleweight title to his IBF version by scoring a ninth-round stoppage over Ryota Murata in their super-hyped unification contest which was staged at the Saitama Super Arena on Saturday. The official time was 2:11.
Golovkin, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 160 pounds, closed the show in a wild ninth round. The veteran warrior from Kazakhstan had Murata hurt in the opening seconds of that session and unloaded his full arsenal. Incredibly, Murata survived and began to battle back, but his bravery was his undoing as he caught a monster right hand, and a short left hook dropped him to the canvas. The white towel soon followed.
“Murata was a true warrior and he fought to the very end,” said Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 knockouts) during his post-fight interview with DAZN. “He’s an Olympic champion, he was the WBA champion, and we’re extremely happy to have organized this event. I’d like to thank my fans from Kazakhstan, especially those who travelled here to Japan.”
It was a competitive opening round with Golovkin connecting with a Larry Holmes-esque left jab, but Murata did let his hands go and showed plenty of ambition. Carrying on from a cordial buildup to the fight, both men bowed at each other after the first three minutes of combat.
Murata, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring, enjoyed some great success in the third. He absorbed an early attack from Golovkin before responding with a ferocious body assault that seemed to wind GGG. From that point on, Golovkin made a clear effort to catch the body shots on his elbows, but Murata continued to find openings.
The action was two-way, but unusually it was Golovkin looking uncomfortable. Murata was fighting the fight of his life and looked far from outgunned against the first elite-level opponent he’d ever faced.
However, the fifth was a breakthrough for Golovkin, who momentarily stunned Murata with a right hand and a heavy combination of headshots. The local hero suddenly lost his shape and GGG punished him thoroughly in the sixth, knocking his mouthpiece out with a heavy right hand. Luckily, referee Luis Pabon gave Murata a timeout to get his mouthpiece replaced which prevented Golovkin from following up.
The fight had turned for good. Murata’s output dropped significantly and he was catching so many power shots, all of which were set up by a bone-breaking jab. The home fighter’s pride kept him erect, but it looked like a matter of time. The ninth was a Round of the Year contender and Murata, who took Olympic gold at London 2012, went out on his shield.
The attention of the boxing world will now shift to a third matchup between Golovkin and Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez. However, Canelo has to deal with unbeaten WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol on May 7 in Las Vegas.
Should Canelo-Golovkin 3 become a reality, it will be contested at 168 pounds. Canelo, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring pound for pound, currently holds every recognized championship in that division.
The 36-year-old Murata drops to 16-3 (13 KOs).
Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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