By: Hans Themistode
As Gennadiy Golovkin celebrated his 40th birthday, fans of the Kazakhstan star believed that his time near the top of the middleweight food chain was coming to an end. However, while his reactionary times appeared to have slowed, Golovkin proved that despite his age, he still has plenty left in the tank.
The Japanese crowd at Saitama Arena rose to its feet and roared as Ryota Murata made his way to the ring. With the WBA middleweight belt holder anxious to pick up the biggest win of his career, he came out inspired in the opening frame. Murata pumped out a consistent and piercing jab in the first, one that Golovkin struggled to get away from.
Regardless of the middling success of Murata, Golovkin turned things around in round two. The current IBF middleweight belt holder moved to the center of the ring, planted his feet, and snapped the head back of of his man. In addition to peppering Murata with numerous blows upstairs, Golovkin took advantage of Murata’s lackluster defense by going to the body.
The action continued in round three. Neither man employed much of a jab during the frame. Instead, they met toe to toe near the middle of the ring and bumped heads while attempting to establish position. As both men threw pernicious blows, neither stepped back.
Although Golovkin had moments of success during the period, it was the bodywork of Murata that truly stood out. At one point in the fourth round, Golovkin appeared to wince in pain as Murata landed a clean right hand to the midsection. As Golovkin attempted to gather himself, he took several steps back. Unwilling to let the moment pass him by, Murata pushed forward and continued to land relentless shots to the body of Golovkin.
The struggles of Golovkin continued in round five as Murata avoided his powerful and looping right hands and was able to land several shots of his own upstairs.
As the midway point of their contest rolled by, Golovkin breathed in deeply in round seven. The newly turned 40-year-old abandoned his jab completed, placed his hands low in an effort to deflect the persistent body blows of Murata, and found success bullying his man around the ring.
A visibly winded Murata seemed shaken during the period. In what turned out to be the turning point of their contest, Golovkin slyly stepped back as Murata launched a left hook in his direction, only to land a devastating right of his own. Once the blow connected, Murata’s mouthpiece was sent flying halfway across the ring. Though the Japanese native was ultimately able to recover, Golovkin continued to batter him for most of the round.
In the ninth, Murata seemed incredibly fatigued. Golovkin, on the other hand, bounced up and down on his toes as he continued his assault. For much of the round, Golovkin butchered Murata against the ropes. Though he would eventually fight his way back to the center of the ring, it turned out that was exactly what Golovkin was hoping for.
In somewhat of a funky sequence, Murata attempted one final hurrah but was quickly sent crashing to the canvas thanks to well-timed right hook by Golovkin. Once Murata hit the deck, his corner had seen enough, throwing in the towel and handing Golovkin the ninth round stoppage victory.
With the win, Golovkin has become just the second boxer at the age of 40 or older, to unify titles.
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