The deal has been signed – unbeaten WBA, IBO and WBC Interim middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) of Kazakhstan will fight top-rated Martin Murray (28-1-1, 12 KOs) of the UK in Monte Carlo on February 21.
Golden Gloves and K2 Promotions announced the bout minutes after Murray’s successful WBC Silver belt defence against Domenico Spada in Monaco on Saturday.
Golovkin will go in search of his record 19th straight stoppage while Murray will be hoping it is third time lucky after two previous title bids were rebuffed by the judges.
“Murray is generally regarded as the best middleweight outside the world champions,” said promoter Rodney Berman. “As we all know, he’s a world champion without a belt. He won’t be intimidated for one second fighting ‘GGG’, unlike all of Golovkin’s challengers.”
Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions agreed. “Arguably, Martin Murray will be the toughest opponent Gennady has ever faced. It’s a great way to follow up the Marco Antonio Rubio win: coming back to Europe and Monte Carlo against a top-rated middleweight contender.
“It fits in perfectly as Murray has shown he is world class and Gennady wants to continue to prove himself the most exciting fighter out there. Gennady is making big inroads in the US, but it’s also important for the fight to be in primetime in Europe where he has so many fans.”
Murray has won four fights since dropping a narrow decision to then-WBC champion Sergio Martinez in 2013, the last two of which were in Monte Carlo.
Golovkin has won 13 straight world championship fights – all by stoppage – on his way to confirming his status as the world’s most exciting boxer.
He has also fought twice before in Monte Carlo, beating Nobuhiro Ishida in 2013 and Osumanu Adama in February.
He was ringside in Monte Carlo on Saturday and said: “It feels great to get this fight. Murray is a great fighter, very strong. I remember the Sergio Martinez bout; it was an amazing fight. Along with Matthew Macklin and Daniel Geale, Murray is one of the best pure boxers in the division.
“I like to test myself. I’m giving him a chance and for Europe this is the biggest fight in the middleweight division. It is important to fight here, where many of my fans and followers are
Said Murray: “I think he’s a top fighter. He’s crushed everybody he’s been in with, but I’ve got the tools to beat any middleweight out there. I wouldn’t be taking the fight if I didn’t think I could win. A lot of his opponents have gone into the fight already beat. You won’t get that with me. I’m gonna go in there and stand up to him.”
Berman rates Golovkin highly, but believes that Murray has a chance of an upset.
“I have the highest regard for Golovkin, but the truth is his opponents have been sitting ducks. Out of fear, they lose the fight before they step into the ring; they’re intimidated and scared. You look at Murray’s background and just know he won’t be cowered. He’s the first guy I’ve seen who will create angles, who won’t stand in front of Golovkin waiting to be hit. Murray will make Golovkin work. He has the ability to outhustle him,” said the man who has famously promoted a number of major upsets over the years.
These include Hasim Rahman’s KO of heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, Corrie Sanders’ blowout of Wladimir Klitschko and Vuyani Bungu’s shock win over unbeaten Kennedy McKinney.
“It doesn’t get better than coming back to Monte Carlo,” added Loeffler. “The atmosphere is electric and Gennady enjoys it. He makes every fight an exciting fight because of his style. Every opponent has a plan . . . until they feel Gennady’s first punch.”
The undercard, Berman assured, would be top rate.