The next fight for Ryota Murata is by far the biggest of his boxing lifetime since capturing Olympic Gold in London nearly ten years ago.

Just don’t tell that to the reigning WBA middleweight titlist.

Tokyo’s Murata couldn’t be less bothered about his dangerous middleweight title unification clash with two-time and current IBF beltholder Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin. The two collide this Saturday in front of an expected sellout crowd at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. It’s a step up in competition for Murata (16-2, 13KOs), who hasn’t fought since the pandemic but insists to be well-prepared for arguably the best middleweight in the world this weekend.  

“I don’t think much will change about my career,” Murata told through a translator. “I won a Gold medal at the (2012) Olympics and won my first world title here (in Japan) against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Maybe this is a small change in my career but nothing significant.”

Murata will enjoy regional advantage and a nation behind him but Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs) remains a healthy betting favorite across several sportsbooks to prevail on the road. BetMGM has the most conservative odds at the moment, with Golovkin viewed as a -450 favorite to enter his second unified middleweight title reign by the end of the night. The same sportsbook views Murata (16-2, 13KOs) as a +333 underdog to win in his first career unification bout.

The fight is also the first for Murata since the pandemic, having not entered the ring in nearly 28 months. Efforts to stage this bout last December fell through once Japan closed its borders to foreign travelers, with the near four-month delay leaving both boxers out of the ring for more than a year by the opening bell.

Golovkin has not fought since December 2020 and will celebrate his 40th birthday by looking to make weight for the 24th fight of his career featuring a full or secondary version of the middleweight title at stake. He still has Murata beat by a full year in terms of activity, as Murata has not fought since a fifth-round knockout of Canada’s Steven Butler in December 2019. Saturday will mark his first defense since being upgraded to WBA “Super” titlist, with the 36-year-old happy to be back in the ring—regardless of the challenge that lies ahead.  

“I really don’t think about it much,” Murata notes of the magnitude of the event. “I will find out after I win what it will mean. I’m really not thinking about anything beyond this fight at the moment.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox