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When Japan announced a temporary ban on travel to the country in the wake of the omicron COVID-19 variant, it seemed only a matter of time before the middleweight championship unification bout between Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryoto Murata would be scratched from its planned Dec. 29 date. The postponement was made official on Thursday night and promoters are hoping to reschedule the fight for 2022.

Golovkin confirmed the news, tweeting, "I am deeply disappointed that fight in Japan has been postponed but the health and safety of the public must always be the priority. I look forward to returning to the ring against Ryōta as soon as possible."

The postponement means 2021 is officially the first calendar year in which Golovkin has not had a fight since turning professional in 2006. The IBF middleweight champion also fought just once in 2020, defeating Kamil Szeremeta when Szeremeta did not come out of his corner after the seventh round.

Golovkin will turn 40 in 2022 and the clock is likely fast ticking down on any possibility of a third fight with Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez has gone on to unify all four recognized world titles at super middleweight and is planning to move to cruiserweight in an attempt to win a world title at yet another weight. Combined with Golovkin's delayed fight, fans may never see the trilogy come to fruition.

Murata has also seen his career largely stalled out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After fighting twice in 2019, winning the WBA secondary title for the second time in his career and being promoted to full world champion by the sanctioning body, Murata then did not fight in 2020 or 2021.

There is no word on a planned reschedule date for the fight though the intention to hold the fight in Japan means the situation with COVID and travel will have to be monitored until a new date can be safely set.