IBF/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin overcame a stern challenge in the form of WBA Middleweight world champion Ryota Murata to score an impressive ninth round stoppage on Saturday night at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo Japan. The two fighters were willing to engage immediately as both are known for their aggression. Early on, Golovkin’s jab had great success in setting up opportunities for him to land hard hooks and uppercuts to the head and body of Murata. Murata however, focused his offense on Golovkin’s body and had increasing success in landing right hooks to the body and right hands to the head from rounds two through five. The effects of the body shots Murata was able to land clearly impacted the forty year old Golovkin, who seemed to have trouble catching his breath for a time.
Despite the ebb and flow moving slightly in Murata’s favor at this point in the bout, Golovkin continued to exchange offense in what was really a highly competitive all-action fight. The turning point came in round six when Golovkin landed a right hook to the head that hurt Murata and knocked his mouthpiece out. From this point, it seemed that Golovkin had found his rhythm and bulled his way forward landing hard shots with every punch he threw and forcing Murata backward. As has been the case throughout his career, Golovkin systematically took the best his opponent had to offer and gradually broke him down. After three rounds of near non-stop punishment, the very “Game” Murata looked badly fatigued in the ninth round as Golovkin pressed forward looking for a stoppage. The end would come from a right hand to the head, Murata simply had no more to give as he went down to the canvas and his corner threw the towel in to save their fighter from further punishment. Official time of the stoppage was 2:11 of round nine. Gennady Golovkin advances to 42-1-1, with 37 Knockouts. Ryota Murata falls to 16-3, with 13 Knockouts.
Also on this card:
Unbeaten WBO Flyweight world champion Junto Nakatani scored a dominant eighth round stoppage of Ryota Yamauchi. From the opening bell, Nakatani unleashed a full display of offense in a fight that seemed to resemble target practice. Yamauchi was very “Game” and, despite taking significant punishment was able to have his moments periodically, but was not able to land anything to keep the champion off of him. The effects of the punishment eventually broke Yamauchi down in a barrage of punches sending him against the ropes and convincing his corner that he had taken enough punishment. Official time of the stoppage was: 2:20 of round eight. Junto Nakatani advances to 23-0, with 18 Knockouts. Ryota Yamauchi falls to 8-2, with 7 Knockouts.
Undefeated Oriental Professional Boxing Federation (OPBF) Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino scored an elven round technical decision over former WBO Jr. Lightweight world champion Masayuki Ito. A toe to toe battle from the outset, the fight saw several exchanges between the two fighters in a closely fought fight. Ito suffered a broken nose early in the fight as well as cuts over both eyes over the course of the bout. The end came midway through round eleven when a hard clash of heads severely affected Ito resulting in the fight being stopped. Official scores at the time of the stoppage were 107-102,(On two scorecards) and 106-102 in favor of Yoshino. Shuichiro Yoshino advances to 15-0, with 11 Knockouts. Masayuki Ito falls to 27-4-1, with 15 Knockouts.
Unbeaten Jr. Featherweight Kazuki Anaguchi scored a third round stoppage of Ryuji Yamamoto. Kazuki Anaguchi advances to 2-0, with 2 Knockouts. Ryuji Yamamoto falls to 6-2, with 6 Knockouts.
Welterweight Taiga Kato began the evening by successfully making his professional debut in scoring a four round unanimous decision over the also debuting Hiroka Amaki. All three official judges scored the bout 39-36 in favor of Kato. Taiga Kato advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Hiroka Amaki falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.
With the victory over Ryota Murata, Gennady Golovkin adds the WBA world championship in the 160lb. Middleweight division to his unified crown. There was obviously, a much bigger subplot that accompanied this fight in that if Golovkin were successful in defeating Murata, he will have earned a third fight against his rival Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for who, his only defeat came in their second fight in 2017 and who shared a draw with him in their first bout in 2016.
While it was not an easy task and Golovkin was forced into a fight with a very “Game” world champion in Ryota Murata, he did get the job done and has done his part. Now, the focus will turn to Las Vegas, NV on May 7th when Alvarez challenges undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol. Obviously, for the current Super-Middleweight world champion a potential loss to Bivol does not necessarily derail the planned third fight with Golovkin, now that Golovkin has fulfilled his end of the process to bring that third encounter to fruition. Nevertheless, the stakes remain high for Alvarez and as we saw in Golovkin’s victory over Murata, nothing is a “Sure Thing” in Boxing and you never know what kind of battle awaits you if you may have your eye on a more lucrative bout than the one that you need to fight beforehand.
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