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Predictions: GGG vs Murata, Garcia vs Tagoe, Lubin vs Fundora

Returns are close for both Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryan Garcia, so who wins this Saturday’s biggest fights?

Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata are part of a busy Saturday in boxing
Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata are part of a busy Saturday in boxing
Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images

It’s a big, busy Saturday in boxing, with three notable main events airing on U.S. TV (or streaming outlets, and actually four but we’re just picking three of them).

Here are our picks for GGG-Murata, Garcia-Tagoe (THE RYTURN!), and Lubin-Fundora. Tell us yours in the comments!

Gennadiy Golovkin vs Ryota Murata

Scott Christ (9-7)

I think this is a great matchup that could be an absolute war between two highly-skilled, tough boxer-punchers who are both at least as much puncher as they are boxer, which is not usually the sort of guy for whom you use that description.

GGG is 40 now, and hasn’t fought in a while, but Murata is 36 and hasn’t fought in even longer. Was Murata ever as good as Golovkin, peak-for-peak? No. Has Golovkin faded enough to give Murata a chance at securing even bigger money later this year, either for a rematch or, who knows, his own crack at Canelo Alvarez? I don’t think so, but I believe we get a damn good fight worth getting up early to watch live, and I think it goes the distance. GGG UD-12

Wil Esco (12-4)

I’ve been saying for some time now that Gennadiy Golovkin has been showing signs of age and slippage, and I honestly don’t think there’s really any doubt about that at this point. The good news for Golovkin here is that he’s got an extremely favorable style matchup here with Ryoto Murata, who’s on the older side himself, isn’t very mobile or agile, and was never of the talent level of Golovkin. That said, I still think Murata gives Golovkin a closer, tougher fight than a lot of people expect, and one certainly much tougher than it would’ve been several years ago.

I think Golovkin takes some punishment here but ultimately breaks down and stops Murata in the second half. Golovkin takes the win and positions himself for another fight with Canelo Alvarez, but also puts more miles on the odometer while leaving even more questions as to just how competitive he can be with Canelo at this stage of his career. GGG TKO-10

John Hansen (13-3)

The closer we get to this fight, the more depressed it makes me feel. The fight itself should be tons of fun. Two champions, both durable, both aggressive, both smart and experienced fighters. The atmosphere should be phenomenal, the action should be intense. I was excited for it back in December, and I’m still excited for it now.

But, this is very likely the second-to-last time we’ll ever see Gennadiy Golovkin fight. And, despite years of thrilling entertainment from the man, it makes me reflect on all the great fights we never got to see. If only Dimitry Pirog’s back hadn’t exploded. If only the 155 pound barrier hadn’t been as resilient and unassailable as the four minute mile, and Canelo Alvarez could have somehow eaten enough pasta alfredo or drunk enough milkshakes to bulk himself up sooner than the first moment GGG started showing signs of age and decline. If only the world hadn’t suffered that terrible ink drought between 2011 and 2018, what others might have managed to fuel their pens and actually signed a contract to face him?

But, the past is passed. The present should be a great show. And the future may not extend very far, but at least there’s September to look forward to if Golovkin wins on Saturday. I’ve never seen the man lose a fight before, and I don’t expect that to change against Ryota Murata. GGG TKO-7

Patrick Stumberg (12-4)

I’ve thought up and tossed aside a number of potential opening statements for this pick; talking about just how fearsome Golovkin was in his heyday, how much that bogus decision in the first Canelo fight cost him in terms of his career and legacy, etcetera. None of them feel right, so let’s just get to the who and why.

Even at 40, Golovkin just seems to edge Murata out in most areas, but the key for me is defense. Though far from untouchable, Golovkin takes fewer punches than his rampant aggression should let through, while Murata can be content to just weather incoming fire on his high guard in the hopes that his pressure and power can swing things right back in his favor. Golovkin remains functionally indestructible as well, and his jab looks just as punishing and ever.

Age and inactivity are certainly a factor for “GGG”, but Murata’s 36 himself and has been out an extra year. Assuming they’re both around the same level of rust, the durability, firepower, and overall craft of Golovkin should carry him to a late stoppage. GGG TKO-10


Ryan Garcia vs Emmanuel Tagoe

Golden Boy

Scott Christ (9-7)

It’s a bigger mismatch than it appears on paper. Tagoe was chosen because his record is shiny enough to look impressive, not because the Garcia side see him as a threat. Garcia TKO-3

Wil Esco (12-4)

I wasn’t an easy convert, but our good friend and leader Scott Christ has convinced me that Ryan Garcia is the greatest fighter since Sugar Ray Robinson. Why I ever doubted his ability, I do not know. The looks, the hooks, there’s nothing he can’t do. He’s got the promoter and even a new, old-school legendary trainer behind him to further propel his meteoric rise. KingRy has it all, and I’m just a humble witness to his ascension. Emmanuel Tagoe, conversely, is just his cannon fodder. Garcia KO-1

John Hansen (13-3)

Ryan Garcia is a very, very good boxer. He might be great. Let’s get that in the official record first. Garcia has undeniable talent and true potential for greatness.

He’s also, like most cash cows for Golden Boy (and Mayweather Promotions, and any other company you want to pick), managed as meticulously as a bonsai tree. If there were any serious risk of losing to Emmanuel Tagoe, Ryan Garcia wouldn’t be fighting him. Any of the questions lingering over Garcia, or the potential seeds of an upset, are really just handy talking points to sell a fight without any real intrigue.

What if Garcia’s not physically or mentally ready to box again? Well, they already canceled two fights last year. If he wasn’t ready, they’d just do it again. What if he’s rusty after 15 months without a fight? Well, Tagoe last fought 17 months ago. He’s even rustier. What if Garcia struggles to make weight? There’s already a +4 lb catchweight to ensure that’s not a problem. What if he doesn’t adjust well to a new trainer? He worked with Joe Goosen as a teenager, before he ever went pro. Goosen isn’t a stranger, and his style isn’t unfamiliar.

Unheralded Ghanaians aren’t as notoriously dangerous as unknown Argentinians, but they aren’t pushovers, either. Isaac Dogboe once shocked an undefeated Jessie Magdaleno, but that was a mandatory. Tagoe is an elective. Every time I try to visualize Tagoe’s path to victory over Garcia, I stop and remind myself that if a realistic one existed, the Golden Boy matchmakers never would have offered him this fight. Barring a targeted lightning strike or a flash sinkhole localized to the red corner. Garcia TKO-9

Patrick Stumberg (12-4)

Garcia’s handlers picked Tagoe for a reason. If Mason Menard can cut off the ring on you and bully you in the pocket, you’re in for a very bad time against “Kingry.” Tagoe has a strong jab and some decent, offbeat movement, but nothing that can stop Garcia from walking him down and bringing his exponentially more devastating firepower to bear.

Tagoe needs two things to make this upset possible: inhuman amounts of rust on Garcia’s part and a referee willing to let him hold to his heart’s content. Odds are, he’s not getting either. In a fight that tells us nothing about Garcia’s prospects against the rest of the division elites, Garcia batters Tagoe in the corner and against the ropes for a quick finish. Garcia KO-4


Erickson Lubin vs Sebastian Fundora

Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Scott Christ (9-7)

Arguably the best matchup of the weekend, definitely has the tightest betting odds of these three main events. I really see this about 50/50, but think Lubin just has the pieces to hand the towering Fundora his first loss. Jamontay Clark — tall at 6’1” or so himself — took Sebastian to a 10-round draw in 2019, and while Fundora has gotten better since then, he showed plenty of flaws last time out against Sergio Garcia.

If Garcia could punch, that fight might have looked different. Lubin isn’t the biggest puncher in the world or anything, but he’s got more crack than Sergio, and I think at some point it changes the tone of this fight. Fundora will come out looking to do what he does best, overwhelming opponents with activity and output, and it will win him some rounds, but I believe Lubin just has too much more in his arsenal compared to past Fundora opponents, and the tall lad is going to be asked questions he hasn’t answered before. But I love this matchup, it’s low key one of the best on Showtime’s current schedule, and if this main event goes head-to-head with Garcia-Tagoe, I urge you to watch this one. Lubin wins a competitive but clear decision. Lubin UD-12

Wil Esco (12-4)

I think it’s been a fun ride watching Sebastian Fundora tower over fighters at 154, but I think the buck stops here. Erickson Lubin was fast-tracked to a world title as a real blue-chip prospect, and while he suffered a spectacular knockout loss in that opportunity, I can’t readily think of many fighters who’ve bounced back better than he has. Lubin still can’t take the best punch perhaps - and that will likely always be a vulnerability - but he’s also very technically sound with good ring IQ, and I think he’s going to get to Fundora’s frail and lanky frame. I fully expect Fundora will make this a fight that doesn’t best suit his length and height, and I think Lubin capitalizes with better placed shots with leverage at mid-to-close ranges. Ultimately I think Fundora fades and gets stopped in the back half of the fight. Lubin TKO-10

John Hansen (13-3)

Unlike its own foreword, I can’t bear to spoil the greatest boxing novel ever written. If you’ve read it you’ll know it, and you’ve probably never forgotten the devastating impact of the first sentence of Chapter 26:

QUOTE: “It was all over in one minute and forty-eight seconds.”

Erickson Lubin lasted 53 seconds longer against Jermell Charlo, but the outcome was almost identical. Caught by a nightmare punch, betrayed by his own body in his attempt to recover. Lubin, age 22, stopped cold in less than a round. Credit to the man for getting right back on the ladder and working his way up again. Five years later, he’s fighting for an interim belt and a spot at the front of the line for whoever wins Charlo-Castano 2. All he has to do is get past the delightfully weird Sebastian Fundora.

The nearly 6’6” Fundora has been affectionately compared to Slenderman, Stretch Armstrong, and a praying mantis. He’s unlike most tall fighters, not just because he can still make 154 pounds, but also because he doesn’t really use his absurd reach advantage. He can jab from the full length of his arm, but he likes to work close, landing short hooks and uppercuts.

It should be a fascinating fight, but I think that it comes down to Lubin’s experience and previous fights against awkward guys like Terrell Gausha. I think Lubin can establish and maintain the middle distance between Fundora’s jab and his inside hooks. I see Lubin scoring with his own power punches at a range where Fundora’s height and arms might prevent him from landing heavy shots of his own.

Both men have the power to end the fight early. But I think Lubin will navigate space in a way that sees this fight through to the final bell and victory on the cards. If it does play out that way, I hope that the young and promising Fundora can follow Lubin’s example of how to recover and rebuild from a setback. Lubin UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (12-4)

This is a battle of who can stay on the front foot. Lubin is the far better technician and likely packs a heavier punch than anyone the ever-hittable Fundora has faced in his career. That said, he gets rattled worrying often and was surprisingly ineffective when Jeison Rosario really pressed the action. If there’s one thing we can trust Fundora to do, it’s throw a ton of awkward punches; it’s easy to picture him weathering some early damage before clipping Lubin with a looping shot and just burying him in activity.

What has me leaning Lubin’s way is his body attack. Fundora’s more than proven his ability to take shots to the jaw, but a 6’5” 154-pounder’s midsection is a tantalizing target. If Lubin stays active, works behind his jab, and commits to really damaging the body, he’ll break the “Towering Inferno” down before the championship rounds. Lubin TKO-7