Gennadiy Golovkin unification fight pushed back as Japan closes borders

World Boxing News
Amanda Westcott / Top Rank

Former middleweight king Gennadiy Golovkin won’t be fighting at the end of this year due to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

‘GGG’ informed his fans on Friday morning that his clash with Ryota Murata in Japan got delayed as the country imposed new measures on travel.

The Omicron variant spreads fast, leading to many nations fighting border controls. Golovkin vs. Murata becomes a victim of that.

Golovkin promised that the fight be postponed and not canceled, though, as he seeks a new date next year.

“I am deeply disappointed that the fight in Japan has been postponed, but the health and safety of the public must always be the priority.

“I look forward to returning to the ring against Ryōta as soon as possible,” he added.

Golovkin is the current IBF champion. Murata holds the WBA version. The winner is linked to facing either Jermall Charlo or Demetrius Andrade in a further unification.

But those plans will have to wait.

GENNADIY GOLOVKIN

Golovkin has won a world championship belt every year since 2010. Golovkin regained the IBF and IBO middleweight titles in 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over top-rated contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko, a three-time world title challenger.

It was a hellacious toe-to-toe slugfest that had the frenzied crowd at Madison Square Garden on its feet for the entire 12 rounds. Many considered it the Fight of the Year.

In his last fight, on December 18, 2020, Golovkin scored four knockdowns against undefeated mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta, en route to a seventh-round stoppage and a record 21st successful middleweight title defense.

Golovkin’s Big Drama Show has packed iconic arenas worldwide, selling out Madison Square Garden, The O2 in London, the Fabulous Forum and StubHub Center in Los Angeles, and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

He earned an Olympic silver medal as a middleweight in the 2004 summer games in Athens.

RYOTA MURATA

Murata’s two world title reigns have begun with stoppage victories in immediate rematches that avenged losses.

After losing a split decision to Hassan N’Dam on May 20, 2017, for the vacant WBA middleweight title, he dethroned N’Dam in the seventh round five months later, on October 22, 2017.

After a successful title defense — an eighth-round TKO of Emanuele Blandamura on April 15, 2018 — Murata lost his title to Rob Brant via a unanimous decision on October 20, 2018.

Nine months later, on July 12, 2019, Murata stopped Brant in the second round to reclaim the WBA middleweight title.

Before the pandemic, Murata successfully defended his title in his last fight. He scored a fifth-round TKO of once-beaten Steven Butler.

The six-foot Murata, one of Japan’s most popular athletes, first came to the world’s attention when he captured the Olympic gold medal in the middleweight division at the 2012 Olympics held in London.

It was the first gold medal won by a Japanese boxer since Takao Sakurai in 1964. Also, Japan’s first-ever boxing medal in a weight class other than bantamweight or flyweight.

Murata also became the 100th gold medalist in Japanese Olympic history. Murata’s last eight victories have come by way of stoppage.

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