Gennady Golovkin plans to turn 40 in style with “a great fight” against Ryota Murata tomorrow in a middleweight unification showdown in Japan, one day after his birthday.
IBF world champion “GGG” Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) is favored to beat Murata (16-2), who holds the WBA version of the title, in Saitama.
The hard-hitting Kazakh turns 40 today and has not fought since December 2020, when he stopped Polish challenger Kamil Szeremeta in the seventh round.
Golovkin promised to “live up to everyone’s expectations” against home boxer Murata, with a blockbuster third fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez possibly on the cards later this year if he wins.
“I’ve never been 40 before, so this will be a new feeling for me,” Golovkin told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo yesterday. “It’s a special feeling for me to be in Japan at this time. A lot of people have worked very hard to make it possible for me to be here ready to celebrate my 40th birthday.”
Golovkin has been hailed as the biggest name to enter a ring in Japan since heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who was knocked out in Tokyo by 40-1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas in one of boxing’s biggest upsets in 1990.
Tomorrow’s fight was originally scheduled for December last year, but was postponed because of travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Golovkin said he had “a lot of respect” for underdog Murata, who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and is a household name in Japan.
“We have had a lot of time to get ready for the fight, so I think we will both be very well prepared,” he said. “I can promise that it’s going to be a great fight.”
The 36-year-old Murata has not fought since he successfully defended his WBA “regular” world title belt against Canada’s Steven Butler in Yokohama, Japan, in December 2019.
Murata was then installed as WBA “super” champion in 2020, the sanctioning body’s premier belt, after Alvarez vacated the crown to move up in weight.
“We’ve had a lot of time and I’ve been sparring for a long time, so it’s good to be about to have a real match,” Murata said. “I’ve trained well, but whether that comes out in the ring is in the lap of the gods. I can’t promise anything, but I have trained well.”
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