Gennadiy Golovkin would’ve preferred much more activity than he has had since his brutal battle with Sergiy Derevyanchenko in October 2019.
He has fought just once in the 30 months since he edged Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden in BoxingScene.com’s “Fight of the Year” for 2019. Golovkin’s only action since he defeated Derevyanchenko by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder was a seven-round demolition of Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta, who was the mandatory challenger for his IBF middleweight title, in December 2020 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Golovkin will end a 15-month layoff Saturday night, a day after he turns 40, in a middleweight title unification fight against Ryota Murata. Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) and Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) will fight for Golovkin’s IBF and Murata’s WBA 160-pound championships in a 12-round main event DAZN will stream in the United States from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan (5:10 a.m. ET; 2:10 a.m. PT).
A rejuvenated Golovkin is looking forward to his rescheduled showdown with Tokyo’s Murata.
“It’s difficult to say whether I feel refreshed, without comparing it to any other conditions,” Golovkin told BoxingScene.com. “But I would say that I feel great at my age. I’m almost 40. I’ve never been 40 before, so I don’t know how it should be. But the way I feel right now, it’s great.”
Golovkin admits, though, that he won’t know what it’ll feel like to compete at this advanced age until the bell rings Saturday night and he squares off with the 36-year-old Murata. He was 38 when he overwhelmed Szeremeta (22-2-1, 6 KOs), whom Golovkin knocked to the canvas four times – once apiece in the first, second, fourth and seventh rounds.
“I just realized that it’s not even normal,” Golovkin said of fighting at 40. “This might be one of my issues.”
His trepidation notwithstanding, Kazakhstan’s Golovkin hasn’t paid much mind to critics that think he won’t resemble the Golovkin of old in what figures to be his first competitive contest since he fended off Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko (13-4, 10 KOs).
“I don’t feel any outside pressure,” Golovkin said. “I don’t pay any attention to that, but I’m fully cognizant of my situation. I’m in touch with reality. I don’t lie to myself. I don’t have any delusions. I fully realize my abilities and I continue [my career] because I can.”
Golovkin and Murata initially were scheduled to fight December 29 in Saitama. Their championship unification match was postponed for three months due to restructured COVID-19 restrictions in Japan.
If Golovkin wins Saturday night, he’ll secure his place in his long-awaited third fight with rival Canelo Alvarez on September 17 at a site to be determined.
Mexico’s Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) would then need to beat WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to make Alvarez-Golovkin III a reality. If Golovkin and Alvarez win their upcoming bouts, Golovkin would move up to the 168-pound limit to fight for Alvarez’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight titles.
Their first two 12-round fights – a controversial split draw in September 2017 and a majority-decision win for Alvarez in September 2018 – were contested at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds.