Gennadiy Golovkin wins, looks strong, but can he rival Canelo Alvarez?

After 16 months away from the ring at the age of 40, there were a lot of questions surrounding Gennadiy Golovkin in the run-up to his middleweight title unification battle with Ryota Murata in Saitama, Japan, on Saturday.

Since suffering a majority decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in September 2018, Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) has not looked like the same fighter who rose to the top of the pound-for-pound roster and established himself as one of boxing’s most dangerous boxers.

Initially, before TKO in the ninth round to claim a second title at £160, Golovkin was giving plenty of credibility to those skeptics who claim that the third fight with Alvarez, planned for September 17, is over. Its expiration date.

Morata was going down at will for the first four rounds and was in control of the action as the aggressor. Golovkin’s legs looked stiffer as he moved around the ring, but he has long been considered a sluggish player.

Suddenly, in the fifth round, Golovkin sent Morata’s tongue with Morata’s tongue flying with his distinctive right hand, and all those memories of GGG’s greatest hits came to mind. The impressive offensive line began to flow, curled right hands mixed with patient feints and bluffs.

Obviously this isn’t the old GGG version but an older, sturdier version of the man who became one of the top boxing superstars during his middleweight career.

After this performance, it’s hard to believe that Golovkin has a realistic chance of defeating Alvarez, who has peaked and is currently ranked the #1 pound-for-pound fighter by ESPN. But Golovkin emphasized that the fight had a decisive end, and in doing so, he showed enough to keep a glimmer of hope that he could fight Alvarez even the third time and compete with the best superstar in boxing.

Strength is still very real, and as the boxing saying goes, this trait is the last to wear off. And Golovkin’s chin still managed to stand up to heavy punches. Morata is a formidable drill bit that hooked up a lot, but GGG has never wavered.

There’s another factor, too, that could even help with what Father Time took away: competitive stinging.

Golovkin told ESPN that it was “not personal” between him and Alvarez, but the rivalry and aversion to each other is well documented. GGG was bitter after his first meeting with Alvarez – the Golovkin match and the majority of the audience seemed to think he won – the tie was declared. The controversial scorecard 118-110 from Judge Adalaide Bird in favor of Alvarez had added fuel to the fire.

When Alvarez tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Clenbuterol before the second fight, which was postponed as a result, the controversy reached a new level. Alvarez blamed the contaminated meat, but Golovkin did not buy it.

Time and time again in sports, the cliched phrase that when there is rivalry you can throw the record books out the window is repeated. This is certainly true in boxing.

Look no further than Juan Manuel Marquez’s four fights with Manny Pacquiao or Tyson Fury’s trilogy with Deontay Wilder.

The 38-year-old was recently brought down by Michael Katsidis in a win when he met Pacquiao for the third time, however this was his best performance against the legend, and a controversial decision loss to Marquez. Of course, Marquez knocked him out in the fourth encounter.

Wilder was credited with heading into his third fight with Fury after being brutally treated at the second meeting. The American was knocked out in a three-way fight, but not before he beat Fury twice in one of the greatest fights in heavyweight championship history.

Golovkin will now be looking to add to that long list of aging underdogs looking for one last reprieve, and just maybe, the extra 8 pounds of super middleweight match will help him.

After all, Golovkin fought at 160 pounds for most of his career, and surely must have been more difficult than he ever was at 40.

With the end of his career looming, if Golovkin has one big fight left in him, she’ll need to incarnate later this year to fend off Alvarez, who is better — and more energetic — than ever.