Even at forty years of age and after a near sixteen month layoff Gennady Golovkin “GGG” put on a vintage performance in his younger foe’s backyard. For Golovkin it was his first fight in Japan as a professional and he had not competed on the Asian continent in over a decade. Murata at thirty six was not only the younger boxer but also had a five inch reach and two inch height advantage. This was a unification fight at middleweight with Golovkin entering as the IBF titleholder and Murata entering as the WBA titleholder. The fight turned out to be an entertaining main event with a few shifts in momentum but by and large a statement from Golovkin who is aiming to get a third crack at Canelo Alvarez. Golovkin showed some vulnerabilities early in the fight but by round five at essentially shed the ring rust and took over.
Golovkin came out strong in the opening round winning it on my card but Murata met him in the middle of the ring and engaged with him toe to toe. Murata put on a strong showing in the second and third rounds winning both on my card. Golovkin did come out with a viscous assault in the first twenty seconds of the third round but Murata took control and had a lot of success. Murata took the punches very well from Golovkin who for a time was a the most fearsome puncher at middleweight, if not boxing as a whole. Due to this ability to absorb the heavy blows Murata was able to back Golovkin up and had a knack for getting to the body. At times in the second and third round Golovkin looked bothered by the body punches and he was heavy on his feet and his mouth was open. Looking his age and laboring through the early rounds it appeared that Murata had momentum on his side.
Golovkin was able to steer the ship in the fourth round winning it before taking control of the fight. A big right hand in the fifth round sent the mouthpiece flying out of Murata’s mouth and referee Luis Pabon broke the action to get a new one. After that moment the fight totally shifted Golovkin’s way and never went back. Though Murata was sturdy in the face of Golovkin’s stiff jabs and power punches his face began to tell another story. Murata began to bleed from the nose and mouth while showing swelling above the eyes. The body language that looked vulnerable for Golovkin began to show bounce in his step and more rhythm in his combinations. Murata who looked rock solid at the beginning of the fight began to look weary and drooping as he went back to his stool. The smile he wore in between rounds early on had vanished has his corner applied ice and water to keep their man in the fight round after round.
There was close to two minutes left in round nine when Golovkin had Murata cornered and in danger. The cumulative effect of the punches had Murata immobilized along the ropes and Golovkin did not waste time. He began firing devastating hooks and uppercuts looking to end the fight. Luis Pabon stood close by watching shot after shot. Just when it appeared over Golovkin relented and backed off to catch some air. Murata in a gritty display of heart put on a last stand coming after Golovkin and scoring. Golovkin for a moment looked gassed but then came back with a shot of his own and the dazed Murata turned and staggered a step before falling to the canvas. The white towel came in and the fight was over in the ninth round. For the second time in his long and successful career Golovkin has unified middleweight titles.
For me this was a vintage Golovkin performance. His jab was heavy, his combinations flew effortlessly and he came forward with purpose. He is clearly a slower fighter and has more vulnerabilities now but once he shook off the ring rust he was a dominant fighter. The talk now shifts to the third battle with Canelo Alvarez who himself has a tough challenge at light heavyweight against Dmitry Bivol which is no push over. Early thoughts are Canelo is the favorite and I think he beats Golovkin clearly this time. I am of the unpopular belief that Canelo fair and square won the second fight. It was close and just as easily as Golovkin could have gotten his hand raised, Canelo getting the victory is no robbery. I feel Alvarez hit his prime in the second Golovkin fight and has been on a dominant run as of late and improving along the way. I think he is better than when they last met and Golovkin has lost a little. I think the hand speed, body punching and reflexes will all skew in favor of the Mexican super star but I don’t think the third encounter is any foregone conclusion. These men know each other very well and Golovkin is a murderous puncher and that always comes into play.