Gennadiy Golovkin favored to win by knockout

Gennadiy Golovkin against Ryota Murata seems like the boxing equivalent of a horse from a claiming race against the winner of the Kentucky Derby. It’s a mismatch anyway you look at it.

Golovkin will meet Murata on Saturday in Saitama, Japan, on DAZN in an IBF-WBA middleweight title unification bout.

At BetMGM, Golovkin is -500 and Murata is +320. Golovkin by knockout is -150 and by decision is +260. Murata by knockout is +900 and by decision is +600.

Golovkin is 41-1-1 with 36 knockouts and is 22-1-1 in world title fights. That’s a formidable record, particularly going against someone lacking experience in big fights like Murata.

Murata has never fought anyone like Golovkin, though to be fair, few others have, either. But Golovkin has an accurate, punishing jab that he uses repeatedly to open up the rest of his arsenal.

His jab is a power punch in and of itself, and he showed that in his last fight against mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta. He hurt Szeremeta several times with a jab and dropped him with it once.

Murata’s one hope in the fight is that Golovkin has gotten old overnight. Murata needs to move and give angles and hope that, somehow, Golovkin’s legs aren’t the same as they were.

Gennadiy Golovkin is a heavy favorite in Saturday’s bout. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

You occasionally see that in boxing when a fighter loses his legs, but Golovkin has had a lengthy break and has long been one of the sport’s best conditioned athletes. He’s unlikely to be the one who loses his legs suddenly.

The result is that unless Golovkin makes a colossal mistake, Murata almost certainly won’t win.

So from a betting standpoint, we look at how Golovkin will win. Given the disparity between the prices in knockout (-150) and decision (+260), it’s obvious bookmakers don’t expect Golovkin to win by decision.

Of his 43 fights, 36 have been by knockout. The only men to go the distance with him were Canelo Alvarez (twice), as well as Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Daniel Jacobs, Amar Amari, Ian Gardner and Mehdi Bouadla. The Amari, Gardner and Bouadla fights all came in eight rounders and before Golovkin hooked up with trainer Abel Sanchez in 2010 and became a knockout artist.

I’ll bet three units on Golovkin to win by KO, risking $450 with the hope of winning $300. As the great Joe Louis once said of Billy Conn, “He can run but he can’t hide.” Murata will have to stand and fight at some point and when he does, that will be his downfall.

Other picks:

• Showtime has a fascinating match for an interim super welterweight title on Saturday in Las Vegas, with Erickson Lubin going against Sebastian Fundora.

Lubin was once the super-elite prospect that Fundora has now become. When Lubin first turned pro as a teenager in 2013, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson raved about him and predicted he would become a superstar.

Tyson wasn’t far off. Lubin is 26 now and is 24-1 with 17 KOs. His only loss was a first-round KO to Jermell Charlo in 2017 in a bout he clearly wasn’t experienced enough to take.

Fundora is best known for his height. He’s 6-foot-6, which is above average for a heavyweight and makes him like Manute Bol among super welterweights.

Lubin is -135 and Fundora is +105 at BetMGM.

The fight could go either way, but I like Fundora. He’s been getting better each time out and is punching with more authority. It will take Lubin some time to figure out the distance, by which point Fundora will have opened up a lead.

It’s a coin toss in what should be a fascinating tactical battle. I’ll take the plus money and go with one unit on Fundora at +105.

• BetMGM has Ryan Garcia at -1700 over Emanuel Tagoe, who is +1000. I like Garcia by knockout, but there is no prop on it yet. If Garcia by KO is -500 or less, I’ll lay the money and bet him to win by KO.

If not, I’ll pass and enjoy the fight.