By Sean Jones: Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) put Canelo Alvarez in the unenviable position of having to face him in September after the Kazakhstan warrior removed the last hurdle to get the revenge match by stopping WBA middleweight titleholder Ryota Murata in the ninth round on Saturday night in Saitama, Japan.
Golovkin, 40, got a little bit of a scare tonight with the way Murata (16-3, 13 KOs) started quickly in the early going at the Saitama Super Arena, landing powerful body shots and doing an excellent job of backing up GGG.
The powerful jab of Golovkin along with his unreal accuracy turned the fight around from the fifth, allowing him to take control over the fight against the motivated WBA ‘Super’ champion Murata.
GGG couldn’t miss!
Golovkin landed 257 of 629 shots for a 41% connect rate. For his part, Murata connected on 144 of 592 punches for a 24% connect rate.
Where things started coming apart for Murata is when Golovkin came on the attack at the beginning of the fifth. He landed some big headshots that seemed to stun Murata, putting him on the defensive for the first time in the fight.
Tons of respect for Ryota Murata! You are the champ 🙏🏻 Arigato! pic.twitter.com/5lpUXTv842
— Gennadiy Golovkin (@GGGBoxing) April 9, 2022
Up until then, Murata had been the one coming forward, attacking the 40-year-old Golovkin relentlessly with shots to the body, some of them straying low from time to time.
The large pro-Murata crowd helped the Japanese fighter battle with more energy than he otherwise would have, as he was reckless at times, walking into heavy shots and powerful jabs from Golovkin.
Murata’s wildness got the better of him in the ninth round when he threw a big left hook, and Golovkin countered it with a straight right hand to the head of the Japanese star.
The punch spun Murata completely around before he fell on the canvas after just barely ducking a left hand from Golovkin that had mean intentions on it.
Ryota’s corner had no choice
Murata’s corner then did the right thing by tossing in the white towel of surrender rather than waiting to see if their fighter would get back up.
It would have been bad a idea for Murata to continue fighting because Golovkin would have finished him straightaway.
With Murata’s punch resistance gone from the sixth round, there was no way he could survive if he’s climbed off the canvas and gave it one last valiant shot at winning.
After the fight, Golovkin showed pure class by giving Murata his beautiful ring walk robe. You could tell that Murata felt touched by the kind gesture on Golovkin’s part.
Golovkin’s ring rust from 16 months out of action showed big-time tonight, as his stamina wasn’t there, and he looked tired for virtually the entire fight.
Interestingly, there wasn’t a moment in the fight where Golovkin didn’t look fatigued, which wasn’t a good thing. It made the bout harder than it should have been for him.
The beginning of the end
Golovkin changed things up in the sixth, using more boxing, being elusive, and nailing Murata with powerful potshots. One of the right-hand pot shots that Golovkin tagged Murata with sent his mouthpiece sailing.
Before the referee could step in to stop the action, Golovkin landed several more hard punches against the hurt Murata.
Ultimately, that punch proved to be the game-changer for the 2004 Olympic silver medalist GGG, as Murata stopped throwing punches for the most part, and was defensive for the remainder of the fight.
Murata’s bell was rung and didn’t have it in him to continue fighting as he’d done in the first four rounds.
It would have been nice if Murata had kept pressing Golovkin because we would have seen one of those survival of the fittest type of matches, but unfortunately, all the fight had been knocked out of the Japanese star from that right hand he took in the sixth.
Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) has been putting off the third fight with Golovkin for eons, and now he has no other choice but to face him again.
Of course, Canelo still must get past his own hurdle in the form of WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol to face Golovkin in September.
Judging how Canelo labored in his last two fights against 168-lb paper champions Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders, there’s an excellent chance he loses to Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs).
The boxing world will be pulling for Canelo to win that fight, though, because they want to see him face GGG again, but this is a sport.
Bivol wants to win too, and he’s a natural light heavyweight, not a short guy like Canelo, who has slowly grown into the weight class. Sean Jones sees Canelo losing to Bivol.
This guy is a much better fighter than the paper champions Canelo has been beating in the last four years, and don’t think he’s ready for an elite talent like this.