The Friday Faceup

Gennadiy Golovkin (left) and Ryoto Murata shape up in Japan.
Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Boxing life continues at 40 for elite middleweight Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin when he faces Japan’s Olympic and former WBA world champion Ryoto Murata in Saitama tomorrow lunchtime (UK time).

GGG turns forty today and whilst his boxing career has very much entered its final chapter he’ll attempt to show there’s still life in those old fists yet. Victory would almost certainly secure him that elusive trilogy fight with recognised world pound-for-pound #1 Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The pair having last met four years ago in an epic.

But first, the Kazakh must come through tomorrow, which is not a gimmee. Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KO’s) faces a challenger in Murata (16-2-0, 13 KO’s) who hasn’t fought at the same level with any regularity but has the quality of an Olympic champion and sufficient toughness to cause him problems. Murata was impressive when taking gold at London 2012 in the middleweight category and although his career hasn’t really taken off due to inactivity he is to be respected.

Golovkin in his heyday was a murderous puncher, with a heavy handedness that resulted in him being much avoided, and registering a high KO ratio in his victories. Time and a number of recent wars have eroded that aura of invincibility, but they say the last thing a puncher loses is that very thing.

Both are comfortable at middleweight with Golovkin campaigning for his whole career in the 160lb (11st, 6lb) division. Yesterday’s weigh-in saw both men scale 159.5lbs. The Japanese is four years younger at 36 and although significantly short in professional experience will be on his home patch and confident going in.

The title on the line is the spurious WBA middleweight ‘super’ championship but the stakes are high for both, particularly GGG. If he comes through spectacularly with a stoppage victory it’s full steam ahead to the Canelo fight, which is currently pencilled in for September. Although expect numerous shenanigans before it becomes reality.

In many eyes Golovkin will be a heavy underdog in that endeavour, but the Kazakh has given Canelo all he can handle in two fights and the opinion of some, The Undisputed included, is he’s 1-0 up.

Regarding tomorrow’s contest, the Japanese has nothing to lose and it wouldn’t be a big upset if he unsurped the IBF world middleweight champion. His 12cm reach advantage will pose the Kazakh early problems. But, our view is that he’s in too deep and Golovkin will come through around the ninth round when his heavier punching causes the Japanese corner to ultimately pull out their man.

The fight will be live on the DAZN streaming site and ring entrances are expected around 12:30 British Summer Time (BST).

In the USA we see the return of much hyped lightweight champion Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KO’s) against Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1, 15 KO’s) on a Golden Boy Promotions show from San Antonio, Texas. The 23 year old Mexican’s had an extended sabbatical due to mental related issues, but his return is welcome and he should come through this test with a late round stoppage.

The bout will again be available on DAZN in the early hours of Sunday morning (BST).

Enjoy your fight weekend.

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