Golovkin eyes ‘interesting’ Canelo trilogy after stopping Murata
Gennady Golovkin said the prospect of a third fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was “interesting” after the Kazakh star homed in on a long-awaited trilogy by beating Japan’s Ryota Murata on Saturday.
“GGG” Golovkin, who turned 40 on Friday, stopped Murata in the ninth round to add the Japanese fighter’s WBA middleweight world title to his own IBF belt in a unification bout in Saitama, north of Tokyo.
The win moved Golovkin a step closer to a third crack at pound-for-pound king Alvarez, having pushed the Mexican all the way in two previous epic encounters.
The all-conquering Alvarez, having last year unified the four super-middleweight belts in just 11 months, will move up to light-heavyweight to challenge undefeated WBA champion Dmitry Bivol on May 7.
A September trilogy fight between Alvarez and Golovkin could smash box office and pay-per-view records but the Kazakh refused to look too far ahead after winning his first fight in 16 months.
“Of course, when an opportunity presents itself it’s always interesting,” said Golovkin, who ran into early trouble against Murata before taking control and winning by technical knockout.
“At the same time, Canelo’s fight is taking place in May and that is not going to be an easy fight. So I suggest we should wait until we get the result of that fight.”
Golovkin’s first fight against Alvarez, in September 2017, saw the Kazakh give an inspired performance, with many believing he had won — only for the judges to declare the bout a split draw.
The rematch eight months later was postponed after Alvarez tested positive for a banned substance.
When it eventually took place in September 2018, Alvarez battled to victory by majority decision after a pulsating contest.
Golovkin needed to beat Murata to stand a chance of earning another bite at the cherry, but the Japanese fighter came out swinging and landed several big body shots in the opening rounds.
Golovkin steadied the ship and gradually began turning the screw, sending Murata’s mouthpiece flying with a ferocious punch early in the sixth round.
Murata — a 2012 London Olympics gold-medallist — eventually succumbed in the ninth round, with his corner throwing in the towel after Golovkin sent him to the canvas.
Golovkin said every round of the intense fight “was close”, but he was happy with his performance.
“Murata is a strong, solid boxer with a lot of stamina and a lot of patience, but at some point I was able to shorten it up and find the right distance,” said Golovkin, who took his record to 42-1-1, with 37 KOs.
The build-up to the fight had been notable for the mutual respect between the two fighters.
After the final bell, Golovkin presented Murata with his ring gown as the two embraced.
“This is our national tradition,” said Golovkin. “When you want to show a lot of respect to a person, you present them with your gown.”
Murata, now 16-3, was roared on by the home crowd against an opponent that was hailed as the biggest name to enter a ring in Japan since Mike Tyson in 1990.
Murata had no complaints after his team threw in the towel, and said Golovkin’s experience and technique had made the difference.
“Golovkin has an image of being strong, that he can just bludgeon you to the ground,” said the 36-year-old Murata, who was fighting for the first time since December 2019.
“But when you fight against him you can see that he’s strong but also really good — his blocking, his technique, his level of boxing perfection.”