(Reuters) – Gennady Golovkin may be focused on his middleweight unification bout against Japan’s Ryota Murata next month but fight fans are fixated on the prospects of a trilogy showdown between the Kazakhstan boxer and longtime ring rival Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
After nearly 16 months on the sidelines, Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KO) returns to action on April 9 to face 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medallist Murata (16-2, 13 KO) at the Saitama Super Arena in a bout originally scheduled for Dec. 29 but postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Japan.
While the fight with Murata is compelling on its own, much of the talk around the bout has centred on a Golovkin victory setting up a far more mouthwatering and money-spinning third battle with Canelo some time this Fall.
Kazakh Golovkin and Canelo fought to a disputed draw in 2017 then in the rematch in 2018 the Mexican won an even more controversial points decision that many observers thought could have gone the other way.
“We should not jump over the fight in Japan, it is a great fight and I am focused on that,” Golovkin, speaking through an interpreter, told Reuters.
“I’ll be very honest with you I know Canelo as a person, we had two fight and it is not something that is going to be on my mind all the time, this is not something I consider mandatory or something outstanding.
“To me the situation is clear, right now I am totally focused on the fight in Japan.”
It has the potential to be explosive with both men possessing impressive knockout power and coming off long layoffs.
A devastating puncher, underscored by his 36 knockouts, Golovkin, who will turn 40 the day before the fight, has never been knocked down.
Murata has ended 13 of his 18 professional fights via knockouts but the 36-year-old could also have plenty of ring rust with his last bout coming more than two years ago.
Golovkin, however, insisted that he will not under-estimate his opponent.
“He is a former Olympic champion, he is the current WBA super champion, he is the hero of his country, he represents Japanese values, Japanese traditions and he is working with an outstanding promoter,” said Golovkin, who will be putting his IBF belt on the line.
“The fights in Japan are always unpredictable – another reason that makes the fight more interesting.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)