Time is the ultimate opponent of every fighter and for five rounds against Ryota Murata in Saitama, Japan, it appeared time had fully caught up to Gennadiy Golovkin. Mid-fight adjustments and his trademark power were enough for Golovkin to storm back and score a ninth-round TKO to unify the IBF and WBA middleweight titles, and perhaps more importantly, move one step closer to locking down a third fight with Saul “Canelo “Alvarez.
Murata utilized a relentless body attack and consistent pressure to throw Golovkin out of sorts. Golovkin’s footwork was not sharp and every clean shot to the body by Murata lowered Golovkin’s guard more and more.
Golovkin, one day after turning 40, turned the tide in the sixth round with a crushing right hand that sent Murata’s mouthpiece flying. The moment appeared to energize Golovkin as he became more consistent with unloading combinations of punches and forcing Murata into fits of defense.
With Murata’s offense stifled, Golovkin continued to unload, forcing Murata to battle not only with being hurt but clearly tiring as a result of the brutal and high-output war.
As Murata seemed close to the limits of the damage he could take, Golovkin stormed out of the corner at the start of Round 9, immediately landing a heavy right hand that set the finish of the fight into motion. Murata was sent back into the ropes as Golovkin emptied the tank looking to close the show, eventually landing a straight right hand that took Murata’s legs and forced the corner to throw in the towel.
Golovkin has now done his part to lock down his trilogy fight with Canelo Alvarez, who signed a deal stating the two would battle in the back end of the year as long as both won their next outings. Alvarez beating Dmitry Bivol on May 7 is now all that stands between Golovkin and a chance to avenge two fights in which he was given a raw deal on the scorecards.