Vanes Martirosyan wasn’t originally supposed to be in the ring with Gennady Golovkin. And then Golovkin showed why Martirosyan never belonged in the ring with him whatsoever.
Golovkin hurt Martirosyan seemingly every time a power shot landed flush, dispatching him in less than five minutes, winning via second-round knockout.
May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, a night traditionally associated with one of boxing’s biggest matches being held on pay-per-view — was originally supposed to feature a rematch between Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. They had fought to a hotly debated draw last September and were ready to meet again. But then Canelo tested positive for a banned substance that is also occasionally found in beef in Mexico.
Their fight was called off. Gone, at least for now, was the chance for Golovkin to settle the score, end the rivalry and earn the lineal middleweight championship — Canelo beat Miguel Cotto, who beat Sergio Martinez, who beat Kelly Pavlik, who beat Jermain Taylor, who beat Bernard Hopkins — never mind to earn big money in the process.
Golovkin went ahead and fought last Saturday night anyway. He took his frustration out on poor Martirosyan, though Martirosyan may be counting his blessings that he couldn’t take too much of it. Martirosyan indeed got beat badly, but he at least didn’t take a bad beating.
Despite the result, Martirosyan at least deserves credit for this: He was brave enough to step into the ring with Golovkin, and additionally brave for doing so on short notice.
Some might think that Martirosyan’s balls were bigger than his brains. Yet this was a fight he had to take, a no-brainer no matter the imposing odds and the inevitable result.
Martirosyan, once viewed as a contender at 154 pounds, had fallen short each time he’d stepped up. There was a technical draw with Erislandy Lara in a fight for a title shot back in 2012, a split decision loss to Demetrius Andrade in a bout for a vacant title belt in 2013, a decision loss to Jermell Charlo in 2015, and a unanimous decision loss to Lara in their rematch in 2016.
Sure, there were victories in-between over the likes of Willie Nelson in 2014 and Ishe Smith in 2015. They weren’t enough. Martirosyan had since been cast aside in the talented junior middleweight division. He also hadn’t helped his cause by signing with Don King, the once-great promoter who hasn’t had much pull remaining in the sport for some time. Martirosyan signed with King in March 2017. He hadn’t fought since.
In fact, Martirosyan hadn’t fought in close to two years. This was his first payday in forever, and a decent one at that, with a reported purse of $225,000.
And he didn’t come there just to get paid. A win over Golovkin would be far more valuable.
He tried valiantly. He failed violently.
The first round was more of a feeling-out round with both men mostly working behind the jab, neither landing much of consequence. That changed early in the second.
Golovkin’s trainer had told him between rounds to stop looking for the one shot that was going to hurt Martirosyan, and instead to put in the work to help get that heavy shot to land. And so in the opening seconds of the second, Golovkin sent out two jabs, then feinted with a third, causing Martirosyan to drop his left hand in an attempt at parrying the punch. That left an opening for Golovkin to land a decent right.
He soon sent out two more jabs and seemed to get ready to throw another right cross. Martirosyan began to duck in anticipation of the shot. Instead, he ducked into the path of what actually came — a right uppercut. Martirosyan was forced to hold on momentarily.
Golovkin continued to stalk. Martirosyan tried to respond to the pressure, at one point sending out a right hand but getting clocked with a left hook counter in return. Martirosyan tried to retaliate. Doing so kept him in range for a hard Golovkin right hand, followed by a few jabs, then another right drove him back to the ropes, where he ate a big left hook and a right hand that began to send him down — plus another left and another right while he was on the way there.
Martirosyan was up to his knees by the count of eight but leaned forward once more as the referee reached 10. He fell to 36-4-1 with 21 knockouts.
Golovkin, meanwhile, is now 38-0-1 with 34 KOs. This was, quite simply, a mismatch. There are far better matches to be made. The top choice would of course be the Canelo rematch, which would ideally take place over Mexican Independence Day weekend in September, the other traditional date for boxing’s biggest pay-per-view fights.
But beyond that, Golovkin has unfinished business with Daniel Jacobs; they had a competitive bout, won by Golovkin in early 2017. And then there is titleholder Billy Joe Saunders and other contenders — in alphabetical order rather than order of preference — such as Demetrius Andrade, Jermall Charlo, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Ryota Murata.
Jacobs has won twice since the Golovkin fight, outpointing prospects Luis Arias and Maciej Sulecki.
Saunders once turned down a fight with Golovkin. He’s coming off a win late last year over former titleholder David Lemieux and will be making his first appearance of 2018 against former contender Martin Murray this coming June.
Andrade is a former 154-pound titleholder who moved last year to 160. He is skilled and undefeated, yet he’s also mismanaged his career along the way and has little momentum.
Charlo is also an undefeated former 154-pound titleholder, and he has far more momentum than Andrade. He blasted away highly touted contender Julian Williams down at junior middleweight and has since done the same at middleweight to Jorge Heiland and Hugo Centeno.
Derevyanchenko is a prospect whose biggest win came over Tureano Johnson, but his skill and power are obvious, and he has far more experience than his pro record of 12-0 would otherwise imply.
Murata won Olympic gold in 2012 and has spent the past several years developing. He was robbed against Hassan N’Dam last year but then took the rematch out of the judges’ hands with a technical knockout in their sequel months later.
Golovkin spoke Saturday of wanting to clean out the middleweight division. These are the names he’d need to go through.
In Other Action: The World’s Best Female Boxer Makes HBO Debut
Cecilia Braekhus has been known for some time as the best female boxer in the world. She just hasn’t been overly well known to anyone in America but the most hardcore of fight fans.
Women’s boxing gets far more respect and attention in other countries than it does in the United States. Women’s MMA in America has gotten far more time in the spotlight than boxing.
Promoters and networks are finally coming around to reality. There are some very good women’s fighters who deserve to be featured. The best of them is Braekhus, an undefeated welterweight from Norway who won her first world titles back in 2009, has since unified all four major belts in the 147-pound division, and had made 21 successfully defenses going into Saturday night.
HBO, apparently the last network to catch up with the times, aired its first-ever women’s boxing match on the undercard of Golovkin-Martirosyan. Braekhus came out victorious over Kali Reis, winning by unanimous decision, though she also suffered a knockdown in Round 7 off a good right hand from Reis.
Braekhus briefly went to a knee, rising immediately and then going back to work, showing her superior skills and talent. Two judges saw it 96-93, or seven rounds to three with a point deducted from Braekhus for the knockdown. The other judge had it 97-92, or eight rounds to two.
Braekhus is now 33-0 with 9 KOs. Reis is now 13-7-1 with 4 KOs.