Gennadiy "GGG" Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs), from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, boxing's most dominant middleweight of his era, is bringing the Big Drama Show and his IBF and IBO world title belts to his opponent's backyard, Japan, where he will rumble with two-time WBA middleweight kingpin Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs), in a long-awaited title unification fight.
"I am glad that the date has finally been set. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers from Japan for their hard work and full support of the upcoming unification fight," said Golovkin. "Ryota Murata is an outstanding champion. I believe that boxing fans from this beautiful country and around the world will see an exciting event. I look forward to getting back in the ring and bringing the Big Drama Show to Japan."
Promoted by Teiken Promotions Inc., in association with GGG Promotions, Golovkin vs. Murata takes place Saturday, April 9 (it had been originally scheduled for December 29 before being postponed because of the Omicron outbreak), and will be streamed live from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, which border's Murata's hometown of Tokyo, to over 200 countries and territories, including the U.S., exclusively on DAZN (excluding Japan and Kazakhstan). In a battle of two-time world champions and Olympic medalists, Golovkin and Murata will be looking to put their stamp on, arguably, boxing's most storied weight class. They boast a combined record of 57-3-1, 49 KOs -- a winning percentage of over 93% -- with 86% of their victories coming by way of knockout.
"It is an honor to share the ring with the great champion Gennadiy Golovkin," said Murata. "I am extremely pleased to be part of this historic middleweight title unification fight here in Japan. On April 9th, victory will be mine and Japan will have a unified World Middleweight Champion."
Golovkin, who has worn a world championship belt every year since 2010, will be looking to build on his division-record of successful title defenses, which currently stands at 21. He returns to the ring in the midst of his second reign as a middleweight world champion. 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 around the world, 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. This will be his first time fighting in Japan. His 11-year rampage on the middleweight division has also attracted millions of viewers who have watched him on premium cable, pay-per-view, and DAZN. He earned an Olympic silver medal as a middleweight in the 2004 summer games in Athens.
“We cannot wait to have Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin back on DAZN, facing off against Ryota Murata for the WBA, IBF, and IBO Middleweight World Titles,” said Ed Breeze, EVP Rights at DAZN. “Murata takes a big step up against the middleweight king GGG, who looks to continue his reign in the division after dismantling Szeremeta last time out. This is set to be a brilliant fight, and we’re thrilled to have it live on DAZN on April 9th.”
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. In his last fight, before the pandemic, Murata successfully defended his title with 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, and 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.