By Sean Jones: Negotiations are underway for a 160-lb unification fight between champions Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Ryota Murata for New Year’s Eve in Japan.
This would arguably be a ‘business-level fight’ rather than one that is in demand by the American fans.
Fans want to see Golovkin fight the quality fighters at 160 like Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Chris Eubank Jr, and Jaime Munguia. It’s unclear why Golovkin has stopped taking risks with his career.
Murata isn’t someone that fans want to see Golovkin fight, but GGG’s management has had their eye on a fight with the Japanese fighter for some time.
Canelo Alvarez is also reportedly interested in fighting Murata as well, but it looks like Golovkin will get to him first. If Canelo weren’t busy unifying the 168-lb division this year, he’d have already fought Murata.
U.S boxing fans won’t be too excited at the Golovkin-Murata fight, as they’re not familiar with the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata.
Although Murata is popular in his home country of Japan, he’s not elsewhere. Some boxing fans view Murata as a belt-holder, aka paper champion. He’s seen by some as by far the weakest link among the 160-b champions in the division.
It’s hard to argue with that notion, as it would likely end badly if Murata were to take on middleweight champions Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, and, of course, Gennadiy.
The U.S fans that have seen Murata fight have been largely unimpressed, watching the Japanese fighter lose to Rob Brant and Hassan NDam.
After getting soundly beaten by Brant by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in October 2018, Murata came back to stop him in the second round in their rematch in July 2019 in Osaka, Japan.
Since then, Murata has fought once, beating fringe contender Steven Butler by a fifth-round knockout.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reports the news of the Golovkin vs. Murata fight negotiations, which would involve GGG’s IBF middleweight and Ryota’s WBA strap being on the line for the fight.
According to Mannix, if the Golovkin-Murata fight gets made, Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) will take a stay-busy fight in June. It’s unknown what the recently turned 39-year-old Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) will do.
Golovkin may sit tight and wait for the big payday fight with the popular 35-year-old Murata rather than make a risky defense of his IBF middleweight title.
Although Golovkin is free to voluntarily defend his IBF strap after defending against his little-known mandatory Kamil Szeremeta last December, he may wait on the Murata clash in December. That would mean Golovkin will only be fighting once in 2021.
Whoever Golovkin’s management was to select; they would need to be approved by DAZN.
Given that Golovkin’s last three opponents Szeremeta, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Steve Rolls, have been all low-risk fights that the boxing public wasn’t excited about, you’d have to assume that DAZN would want someone good this time.
Golovkin has breezed through his first three fights of his six-fight contract with DAZN without fighting any dangerous and/or popular, and you’d have to believe that the streaming giant would want him to fight someone that will bring in the subscribers.
Golovkin isn’t going to be able to do that if he selects another safe pick like Szeremeta, which was a godawful fight from start to finish.
What was the International Boxing Federation thinking when they made Szeremeta their #1 mandatory is anyone’s guess. He looked like a fighter that didn’t belong in the top 15, let alone at the number one spot.
IBF’s top 15 at middleweight:
1. Not rated
2. Not rated
3. Patrick Wojcicki
4. Jaime Munguia
5. Esquiva Falcao
6. Patrice Volny
7. Denis Radovan
8. Matteo Signani
9. Meiirim Nursultanov
10. Kamil Szeremeta
11. Zhanibek Alimkhanuly
12. Vincent Feigenbutz
13. Anatoli Muratov
14. Kanat Slam
15. Marcos Nader
As you can see, there are mostly fluff fighters, with the only halfway decent guy among the pack is Jaime Munguia. He’s already scheduled to fight Maciej Sulecki on June 19th on DAZN, so he’s out of the equation for GGG.
“Reps for @GGGBoxing and Ryota Murata have discussed a title unification fight in Japan, per sources, though talks have focused on December, on New Year’s Eve, a huge Japanese boxing day. Murata hopes to return in a stay busy fight in June, pre-Olympics. GGG? Unclear,” said @SIChrisMannix.