It has been a year since IBF middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin last fought, and after the news Thursday, he’ll have to wait a bit longer to step back in the ring.
Golovkin was slated to fight WBA champion Ryota Murata in Murata’s native Japan on Dec. 29, but because of the emerging Omicron variant of the coronavirus and Japan’s new travel restrictions, the fight has been postponed.
Sources: GGG-Ryota Murata is postponed due to new COVID restrictions in Japan that prohibits foreign visitors in the wake of the omicron variant. The middleweight title unification was set for Dec. 29 in Saitama on DAZN. Plan is for bout to be rescheduled in Japan next year
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) December 3, 2021
MORE: Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury date, time for 2021 boxing match
Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs), a native of Kazakhstan, was looking to become a two-time unified middleweight champion in his bout vs. Murata (16-2, 13 KOs), who was a gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics.
Similar to Golovkin, Murata has gone a long time without fighting; he last competed in December 2019 when he defended his WBA title with a victory over Steven Butler.
Here’s everything you need to know about the status of one of the year’s most anticipated fights.
HALE: How Gervonta Davis became one of boxing’s must-see attractions
Why was GGG vs. Ryota Murata postponed?
The fight, originally slated for Dec. 29 in Saitama, Japan, was postponed because of new travel restrictions in Japan.
To curb the spread of the recently discovered omicron variant of the coronavirus, the country imposed a ban on foreign visitors on Monday.
According to ESPN, GGG’s camp and other officials were hoping to obtain a waiver and exemption from the Japanese government to allow the fight to proceed, but were denied.
Have GGG and Ryota Murata fought before?
This is the first meeting between the two. Both were effusive in their praise of each another in the lead-up to the fight.
“I am really excited to be bringing the Big Drama Show to Japan, a country where boxing is very popular,” Golovkin said last month. “Ryota Murata has been an outstanding champion.”
MORE: Boxing world reacts to Kambosos’ victory over Lopez
Murata is the WBA middleweight champion while GGG is the IBF and IBO champion. Prior to its postponement, the fight was for the unified middleweight title, which Golovkin held between 2014 and 2018.
“I feel that my entire amateur and professional boxing career has been a preparation for this fight against Gennadiy Golovkin,” Murata said in November. “This fight will determine my place in the middleweight division and boxing history.”
When will GGG and Ryota Murata fight?
As of right now, there is no date for a rescheduled fight other than sometime in 2022. The fight will take place in Japan.
The postponement means that 2021 will be the first year since GGG turned pro in 2006 that he hasn’t fought. His last fight was Dec. 18, 2020, against Kamil Szeremeta, whom he beat handily.
MORE: Undisputed vs. unified: Explaining the different types of boxing champions
Depending on when the fight is rescheduled, Golovkin could be 40 when he returns to the ring. He turns 40 on April 8.
Murata has had an even longer layoff. His last fight was against Canada’s Steven Butler, whom he beat by TKO, on Dec. 23, 2019. Murata has beaten every boxer he has gone up against; he avenged his two career losses by beating Rob Brant and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Murata will turn 36 on Jan. 12.