TOKYO: Veteran middleweight Gennady Golovkin announced Thursday that his title unification fight against Ryota Murata will take place in Japan next month, after being postponed in December because of Covid travel restrictions. “See you in Japan on April 9,” tweeted the former undisputed middleweight champion from Kazakhstan known as “GGG”, who currently holds the IBF belt, along with a poster for the bout in Saitama, near Tokyo. Golovkin, the former three-belt champion who dominated the middleweight division for eight years before losing to Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2018, was unable to travel to Japan for the original fight date on December 29, 2021, but border rules are now being eased. Japan’s Murata, the WBA champion with a 16-2 win-loss record, said he was already in training camp ahead of the unification clash. “I’m imagining myself fighting Golovkin. And I want to increase my stamina more and remain in good shape,” Murata said in a blog on his promoter Teiken’s website. “It’s been great so far, I’m in it to win it,” said the 36-year-old who became a national hero in Japan after winning Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games. The hard-punching Golovkin (41-1-1), who will turn 40 on April 8, last fought in December 2020 when he stopped Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta in the seventh round. It was Golovkin’s first defence of the IBF title he won in a disputed decision against Sergiy Derevyanchenko in 2019 and he has been training in Florida for what will be his first fight in 17 months. Golovkin unified the WBA, IBF and WBC belts during his first eight years as champion and tied Bernard Hopkins for the most middleweight consecutive title defences in history with 20. Murata has not fought for more than two years. He regained the WBA belt by second-round knockout of American Rob Brant in a July 2019 rematch after losing by unanimous decision nine months earlier. He defended the title with a fifth-round knockout of Canadian Steven Butler in December 2019, his last appearance in the ring. Murata said last year that his “entire amateur and professional boxing career has been a preparation for this fight against Gennady Golovkin”.