Golovkin stops Murata in nine, moves one step closer to trilogy with Canelo

Gennadiy Golovkin is one step closer to a long-awaited trilogy fight with Canelo Alvarez.

The day after his 40th birthday, Golovkin unified two middleweight titles with a ninth-round stoppage of Ryota Murata on Saturday in Saitama, Japan to add the WBA "Super" title to his collection. He entered the bout already in possession of the IBF strap.

Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) badly hurt Murata with a right hand to start the ninth round before flooring the Japanese star with another right moments later, prompting his corner to throw in the towel. The victory means Golovkin could face Alvarez in a trilogy fight slated for September 17. However, the Mexican superstar must first defeat WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, whom he faces May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Golovkin and Alvarez agreed to fight at 168-pounds for Alvarez's undisputed championship in February.

With Murata (16-3, 13 KOs) out of the way, Alvarez, FightNights No.1-pound-for-pound fighter, is next in line to score a big victory.

Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a highly-controversial draw in September 2017 before Alvarez won a majority decision a year later.

For Golovkin, it was his first fight in 16 months following his TKO victory over Kamil Szeremeta in December 2020. It took about four rounds for him to adjust during which time Murata, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist who hadn't fought since December 2019, was able to walk Golovkin down with a precise body attack. However, Golovkin turned the tide in the fifth frame.

Golovkin connected with a looping right hand that sent Murata's mouthpiece flying. From that point forward, Golovkin dictated the pace. He punished the 36-year-old former titlist until his corner threw in the towel once he hit the canvas in round nine.

According to Compubox, Golovkin landed 257 of 629 punches (41 percent) and Murata connected on 144 of 592 shots (24 percent).

Should Alvarez defeat Bivol, Golovkin will attempt to become a two-division world champion in his first bout outside the middleweight division.

"I think it is the biggest fight [in the sport] that is feasible. There could be others, but the boxing business prevents them from being made," Golovkin said. "The reason I think it is a big fight is because we have already given the fans two fantastic fights. A lot of people from around the world watched them. The fans know what to expect, and I think they want to see more of what we gave them the first two times."

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