Golovkin halts Murata, unifies WBA/IBF 160lb belts

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By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs), 160, Kazakhstan, unified the WBA and IBF middleweight belts as he withstood a grueling battle with Japanese warrior Ryota Murata (16-3, 13 KOs), 160, and finally decked him with his tremendous attacks to halt him at 2:11 of the ninth round on Saturday in Saitama, Japan. Murata, WBA titlist, displayed his admirable courage in continually stalking GGG, who, however, caught up with him and scored a very significant victory.

Golovkin (amateur mark 345-5) won the silver medal in Athens Olympic Games in 2004, while Murata (118-19) acquired the gold one in London Games in 2012. It was in 2006 that GGG turned professional, while Ryota sensationally made a pro debut in 2013. Despite their only four-year difference of age, Golovkin, 40, was more experienced with 43 pro outings, while Murata, 36, fought just 18 bouts—even considering his two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, in July 2014, Murata had an opportunity to experience sparring sessions with GGG at Big Bear, California. Then, Golovkin gave his advice to the still young and improving prospect from Japan, saying, “Hard training will give you the strength and confidence as well.” Murata diligently observed GGG’s suggestion thereafter.

It’s a Dream Fight not only for Japanese aficionados but also for Murata himself since he had highly respected GGG and pursued his footstep since 2013. The sensational event had some 15,000 people in attendance at the Saitama Super Arena, where we felt the greatest enthusiasm of spectators that prayed for Murata’s victory.

Murata made a good start with his opening attack, but Golovkin started throwing sharp and strong jabs to the peek-a-boo stylist to find his range. Ryota, however, turned aggressive from the second session as he connected with jabs and left-right combinations to GGG and was in command for two sessions. Murata, reminiscent of Alvaro Yaqui Lopez’s aggressive style, threw many straight blows in the long-range.

The fourth saw Golovkin turn loose with a flurry of punches to the tight-guarded Murata, who, in return, retaliated with left-right combos followed by left hooks to the side of the belly and had GGG retreating. It might be the beginning of the tide turning in favor of the Kazakhstani.

“I thought my body shots were effective to GGG,” said Ryota after the fight. But Golovkin cleverly pretended he didn’t take much punishment by Murata’s body bombardments, and connected with more effective shots to the Japanese aggressor in return.

The sixth witnessed GGG’s solid right hook had the mouthpiece thrown flying out of Murata’s mouth in the air. It seemed a clear sign of Golovkin taking back the initiative with his damaging shots with precision.

“Murata was (mentally) tough and (physically) durable,” reviewed Golovkin after the fight. It was true whenever GGG gave him much punishment, Murata fought back hard with persistent straight blows and left hooks to the side-belly. It became a give-and-take affair.

“Technically he was superior to me. I deeply realized it as the fight progressed,” reviewed Murata afterward. Golovkin, in round eight, pinned Murata to the ropes and landed light but effective combos to the face and body. But Murata’s strong heart made him endure them and fight back hard.

Despite his visible fatigue Murata gamely exchanged hot rallies in round nine, when GGG finally caught Murata with a vicious right followed by a left hook. Down he went. A towel came in fluttering into the ring, which made veteran referee Luis Pabon (Puerto Rico) call a halt. Good fight!

The victor GGG was interviewed in the squared circle. “Murata was a super champion. He showed his heart and strength as well. It was my great pleasure I could face him and exchange solid punches each other here in Japan.”

All the judges saw Golovkin leading after the eighth: Glenn Feldman 78-84, Alex Levin 77-75 and Robert Hoyle 79-73—all in Gennadiy’s favor.

The good loser frankly reviewed his defeat. “My body punches might hurt Golovkin, but he nullified the effect of my body bombardments by occasionally adjusting the distance so that I couldn’t go on attacking the midsection. Also, he often penetrated my guard with solid jabs and left hooks from outside. I did my best, and believe I could show my best. But Golovkin cleverly kept changing the angles of his punches to me with better precision.”

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It was a heart-warming scene when Golovkin gifted his picturesque robe (called chepan, the national costume of Kazakhstan) to the loser Murata. They showed their utmost respect for each other, which had the spectators clapping hands for their sportsmanship.


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  • can you imagine G fighting Hagler at 40? He would be crushed. Pitiful. Must be broke, why do this?

  • Murata is for sure a blood and guts fighter that likely would have taken just about anyone else out for sure. How humble he was after the fight is even more impressive.
    Kurtis Gaskins talking about Hagler fighting Golovkin is nothing more than imagination with BS sprinkled on top. Nobody knows what would happen but I highly doubt that Hagler would walk through Golovkin’s shots nor did he has the footwork and ability to cut off the ring like GGG.

    • Hagler would’ve eaten GGG alive!! On another level along with Leonard ,Hearns,Duran !!

      • And I suppose you feel the same way about Canelo, — that “Hagler would’ve eaten hum alive” as well. LOL

  • Triple G’s legs are in the over the hill class . His feet stance is far to wide preventing full hip rotation when delivering a punch. He” dives” into an opponent’s punch with his head instead of remaining upright and in balance. The Mexican will attack his body as a logger falling a tree. When G does his road work his trainer should drop field stones every 25 meters for G to pick up ie Marciano .

  • What an underrated fighter GGG is ! Shouldn’t have any loss on his record only a draw in his second fight against Canelo. A true legend and P4P great, hope he fights one last time and then hang up the gloves for good before the end of the year.

  • I really have a great deal of respect for Golovkin. Full of substance and character, he comes prepared and takes care of business in decisive fashion. He’s humble, like fighters were during earlier times. Murata was a tough opponent, humble, respectful, and gave an honest effort. He came to fight, and presented a good challenge. Golovkin took him out. This is what the Sweet Science is all about in its most pure form. Bravo to both fighters. Both are warriors and I remain a big fan of Golovkin.

  • 40 y/o GGG got the job done. I think he is 1-1 with Canelo. He had 400 amateur fights and 43 pro fights, but at 40 he has nothing to prove. Retire as champ. I don’ think he has a chance of beating Canelo at this age.

  • GGG needs to retire, the only fight that’s honestly worth him doing again is the canelo trilogy but I think even hardcore gennady fans can see he isn’t the same fighter as before & there’s a very good chance he will get stopped; humiliated by prime canelo. In this fight he still clearly has the power but his movement was so robotic & he looked gassed everytime he threw a combination, I don’t think he can get away with taking canelos body shots. On a side note I loved his ‘sportmanship’ this was actually a low key diss, he gave Murata his robe to say ‘you are now my b*tch/property, I made you quit’ 😀

    • Your interpretation of the robe-giving flies in the face of the quality of character that has always defined Golovkin. Besides, Murata himself would’ve never quit: — his corner compassionately saved the warrior for another day. We tend to call things as our minds see them, and not as they stand factually. But if Golovkin actually gifted Murata with his prized robe for the reasons you say, — after such a grueling battle against him (and no easy victory), then he’d be slimeball with a gutter mentality.

      • He didn’t verbally ‘no mas’ (99% of fighters don’t) but just use your eyes and read his body language he was looking for a way out. Murata had stopped throwing back and was visibly grimacing after every punch GGG landed in the last two rounds, he was trying to signal to his corner that he’d had enough and was hurt without saying it, it’s a pride thing.

  • — I move that Joe Koizumi immediately go to work on the great history of Japanese boxing that he has been blessed with during his era.

    No greater scribe can be had for such a task if Joe choses to take it on. I’m certain that with his stellar reputation that he can enlist a publisher with able assistants for such a masterpiece. Plus you will have a plethora of still living boxers and promoters, ect, some of them legends for references.

    Joe, you already have your first customer, so please make it so and thanks for everything…Bobby Mac…

  • This was pretty much what I had hoped for. A good slugfest. GGG is aging but has some left in the tank. We already know he did his thing vs Canelo. He should pick the fights he wants from here on out. I don’t think he “needs” the money. But glad he got to get a big fight in Japan vs a middling contender. And Murata had the come forward style that many of GGG’s opponents did not have. So we got to see some give and take until G’s experience made the difference.

  • Don’t really care about the 2022 GGG comparison’s to a 1980’s Hagler… just like I don’t care about a Hagler comparison to a 1940’s fighter… quite different era’s. Kurtis Blow hatin, breakin a gasket, comparin live fighters vs those in a grave in a casket. Hagler musta been “broke” to fight so many times, right?
    Nope, can’t and don’t want to imagine it

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