The Dec. 29 unification bout between IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and WBA super middleweight champion Ryota Murata in Japan has been canceled because of the country's new restrictions on foreign visitors due to the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to Ariel Helwani.
ESPN's Mike Coppinger initially reported the bout would be rescheduled for next year.
The event was supposed to be held at the Saitama Super Arena. It was also said to be worth $132.75 million, making it one of the biggest fights in Japanese history.
Golovkin was particularly excited for the fight, frequently posting countdowns on social media:
Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) was set to return to the ring after he regained his IBF middleweight title in 2019 with a unanimous-decision victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko. However, he has not fought since December 2020, when he had four knockdowns against undefeated Kamil Szeremeta en route to a record 21st successful middleweight title defense.
Murata (16-2, 13 KOs), meanwhile, defeated Emanuele Blandamura via eighth-round TKO in April 2018 to defend his WBA middleweight title. However, he lost the title to Rob Brant via unanimous decision in October 2018 before stopping Brant in the second round of a July 2019 bout to reclaim the title.
However, Murata hasn't fought since December 2019 when he defeated Steven Butler via fifth-round TKO to hold on to his WBA title.
Murata rose to fame in Japan after capturing a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. It was the country's first gold medal in boxing since Takao Sakurai won in 1964. Golovkin has also found success at the Olympics, winning silver at the 2004 Athens Games.