It’s not what it was.
Time does that.
Once among the more active fighters in the game, Gennadiy Golovkin hasn’t been in the ring since December 2020 and enters the ring Saturday one day after his 40th birthday. While fighters competing longer feels more normal than in previous generations, it’s not unfair to guess Golovkin is in at best an encore period for his career.
Will the encore include a win over Saul Alvarez?
Golovkin will have to win Saturday in Japan (DAZN, 5:10 AM EST) to get there. If he does, he will have partially unified the middleweight division for the second time. Ryota Murata will have something to say about it.
The younger man isn’t young and he enters even more inactive than Golovkin. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist hasn’t been in the ring since December 2019 but he’s got a chance to return in style with the best opponent of his career.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Titles: IBF/IBO Middleweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: WBA Middleweight (2013-18, 14 Defenses*); WBC Middleweight (2014-18, 7 Defenses); IBF Middleweight (2015-18, 4 Defenses); IBO Middleweight (2013-18, 14 Defenses)
Height: 5’10 ½
Weight: 160 lbs.
Hails from: Los Angeles, California (Hails from Kazakhstan)
Record: 41-1-1, 36 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring), #2 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 16-1-1, 14 KO (22-1-1, 20 KO including interim or sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 138-5-3 (.955)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB/Ring Rated Foes: Grzegorz Proksa TKO5; Gabriel Rosado TKO7; Matthew Macklin TKO3; Curtis Stevens RTD8; Daniel Geale TKO3; Marco Antonio Rubio KO2; Martin Murray TKO11; David Lemieux TKO8; Kell Brook TKO5; Daniel Jacobs UD12; Saul Alvarez D12, L12; Sergiy Derevyanchenko UD12; Kamil Szeremata RTD7
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Kassim Ouma TKO10
*Golovkin initially won the WBA’s interim title in 2010, upgraded to their sub-title, and made five defenses before becoming the primary WBA titlist.
Titles: WBA Middleweight (2021-Present, 1st Attempted Defense*)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 160 lbs.
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 16-2, 13 KO
Press Rankings: #4 (ESPN), #5 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-0 (4-2, 4 KO including WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 139-7-1 (.949)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam L12, RTD7; Rob Brant TKO2
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
*Murata has won the WBA’s sub-title twice, defending once in each reign
The Pick: A few years ago this would have felt like a no-brainer. Murata is the sort of stationary battler Golovkin feasted on in his prime. What do we have now? Golovkin struggled with Derevyanchenko and looked almost bored against Szeremeta his last time out. A little time off might have been good for Golovkin but was it too much time off for Murata? If Murata were more active, his heavy hands and lesser wear might feel like bigger factors. The professional experience gap is palpable though and Murata has never appeared unbeatable. Golovkin can be caught but his whiskers are proven and Golovkin’s jab and power are more proven at the highest level of the sport. There is at least a case Golovkin has never genuinely lost a professional fight. That won’t change on Saturday. The pick is Golovkin by decision or late stoppage.
Additional Weekend Pick
Sebastian Fundora TKO Erickson Lubin
Ryan Garcia TKO Emmanuel Tagoe
Rold Picks 2022: 13-4
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com