Gennadiy Golovkin stopped Ryota Murata in the ninth round to unify the IBF and WBA middleweight titles, setting up a September trilogy fight with Canelo Alvarez.
Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KO) had a slow start in this one, undeniably looking his age at the get-go, and realistically throughout the bout. This was not the Gennadiy Golovkin of 2016, and it won’t be again, either. But he was able to survive the best of what Murata (16-3, 13 KO) had to offer, and eventually drop the Japanese star in the ninth round, forcing Murata’s corner to throw the towel after his output and resistance had gone increasingly ragged.
Golovkin’s jab looked sharp and stiff from the first round, but Murata definitely did some damage and was even able to bully Golovkin in the second and third rounds especially. Body work gave Murata his biggest moments, sort of as we saw when Golovkin fought Sergiy Derevyanchenko in 2019, which is ancient history at this point.
But GGG held strong, sucked it up — and at times, literally was sucking it up after some Murata body shots — and eventually made real headway, doing notable damage the sixth through eighth rounds. Murata tried to make his own stands, but GGG got the momentum, looked like he’d loosened up, and by the eighth and then ninth, he was putting Murata on the ropes and having big rallies of unanswered offense.
Murata simply ran out of gas and resistance here, as much as he tried to keep fighting. And his corner made the right call to stop the fight; he was done, and had given what he had.
“I’d like to thank Ryota Murata and his team. He was a true warrior and he fought until the very end,” Golovkin said to the cheers of the Saitama crowd.
Other than that, GGG was just nice and respectful, mentioning nothing — and being asked nothing, to be fair — about his looming September trilogy date with Canelo Alvarez, which will be for Canelo’s undisputed super middleweight championship.
There will be plenty of questions about how a 40-year-old Golovkin will manage against Canelo, who is still in his prime and probably a better fighter than he was in either 2017 or 2018, which Golovkin is not. I would warn that some guys just give other guys hell; I’ve thrown out Juan Manuel Marquez against Manny Pacquiao plenty, but there’s no doubt that there are more questions than ever how GGG will do against Canelo.
How do you think he’ll fare?
Junto Nakatani TKO-8 Ryota Yamauchi
Just a complete mismatch, with Nakatani dominating to retain his WBO flyweight title and go to 23-0 (18 KO) in a one-sided fight all the way.
Yamauchi (8-2, 7 KO) gave a very, very brave effort here, and that should be commended, but it was clear within the first round that he had no real business being in the ring with a top-tier flyweight, and his luck never really got better. Honestly, after the second round, this looked a lot more like Nakatani practicing and getting rounds than him really trying to finish this, because he probably could have stepped on the gas and ended this a good bit earlier.
Nakatani has talked about possibly unifying at 112, and also about moving up to 115, where he’ll still be bigger than most of his opponents and could have some real options against big stars, including countryman Kazuto Ioka, who just received a WBO order to face Donnie Nietes.
Shuichiro Yoshino TD-11 Masayuki Ito
A terrific, brutal opener in the lightweight division, with Yoshino staying undefeated on a technical decision win, improving to 15-0 (9 KO) on scores of 106-103, 107-102, and 107-102. Bad Left Hook had it a little closer at 105-104, but judges may have simply given Yoshino that partial 11th round because they already had him up, too.
Former 130 lb titleholder Ito (27-4-1, 15 KO) had his nose pretty clearly broken early in this fight and was bleeding heavily from it for the majority, but he had a lot of success, too. It seemed like the sheer physical strength and size of Yoshino, who’s just a little thicker and more natural at 135, dictated enough of the fight, as this was really physical, as Ito stayed in the pocket more than he probably needed to or should have, with his best success coming at mid-range.
Both guys fought their guts out here, and the bout came to an end on a nasty clash of heads. Ito was already leaking from the nose, had a cut under his eye, had another one over his eye, and the doctor had taken a look at him in round 10.
But this was a hell of a fight. Ito said if he lost this he might hang up the gloves, but the way it happened might convince him to give it another shot. Then again, it was such a hard, rough fight that this could also be the sign for him to give it up at age 31, before it gets worse.