Middleweight great Gennady Golvkin returned to the ring on Saturday for the first time in 16 months, where a win against Japan’s Ryota Murata could set up the long-awaited third fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
IBF Champion “GGG” Golvkin (41-1-1, 36 KO) will face Murata (16-2) in the integration battle in Saitama, north of Tokyo, who holds the WBA version of the title.
Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who was knocked out of the 40-1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo in one of the biggest upsets of boxing in 1990, has been hailed as the biggest name in hard-hitting Kazakh entry into a ring in Japan since then.
The prize for Golvkin is a possible third crack to the pound-for-pound king Alvarez in a blockbuster trilogy fight later this year, pushing the Mexicans all the way in the previous two epic encounters.
If the pair, who hold real mutual animosity, remain undefeated in their upcoming fight, then the fight in the September trilogy could break box office and pay-per-view records.
All-time winner Alvarez, who combined four super-middleweight belts in just 11 months last year, will rise to the light-heavyweight on May 7 to challenge undefeated WBA champion Dmitry Bevel.
Veteran Golvkin, who turned 40 on Friday, has never lost his Mexican nemesis.
Their first fight, in September 2017, saw Golvkin show an inspiring performance, with many believing that he had won, just to declare the fight a split draw for the judges.
Eight months later the match was postponed again after Alvarez tested positive for a banned substance.
‘Place in Boxing History’
When it finally happened in September 2018, Alvarez fought to win by a majority decision after a thrilling contest.
His rivalry with Alvarez in a recent interview with Bleacher Report points to his 21 world title defense – not the only thing that characterizes my career – a middleweight record.
“If I’m going to have a third fight with Canello, it must be with a different mindset and not with the idea of correcting any mistakes,” he told broadcaster DAZN, adding that he was not bothered by the initial results of the “two fights”.
“I’m not in boxing to prove anything to anyone.”
After being out of action since December 2020, when he stopped Poland’s Kamil Sezeremata in the seventh round, GGG needs to remind the world that its strength and skills are not limited when it faces 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata.
Murata (16-2) is getting more and more rusty – his last appearance was the successful defense of the WBA ‘regular’ world title belt against Steven Butler of Canada in Yokohama in December 2019.
Murata was then installed as the WBA ‘Super’ champion in 2020, after the head of the approval body, Alvarez, emptied the crown to gain weight.
Murata, 36, who became a household name in Japan after winning Olympic gold, said his fight with Golovkin would determine his “place in the middleweight division and boxing history.”
“My whole amateur and professional boxing career was a preparation for this fight against Gennady Golovkin,” he said when the fight was announced.
The fight was originally scheduled for December last year but was postponed due to a coronavirus travel ban.
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