Golovkin: Martirosyan is not an easy fight
By Jim Dower: Middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin does not agree with the belief by the world of boxing that his next opponent Vanes Martirosyan is going to be an easy fight for him on May 5. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) thinks this could be a very tough fight for him, and he’s taking the contest dead serious so that he doesn’t suffer his first defeat.
Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) is GGG’s replacement opponent for Saul Canelo Alvarez on May 5 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Canelo dropped out of the bout unexpectedly after two positive tests for clenbuterol. Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler tried to get Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan to use as the replacement, but he was unable to close the deal due to the money not being enough to lure the Irish fighter to take the spot.
O’Sullivan instead decided to take less money to fight welterweight Berlin Abreu on May 4 on ESPN at the Carson Center. The boxing public wasn’t excited about Golovkin fighting O’Sullivan, and they’re even less interested at seeing him fight Martirosyan because he’s been out of the ring for 2 years and he’s lost 2 out of his last 3 fights.
Boxing fans are strict on who they feel deserves title shots. When a fighter has been out of the ring for 2 years, and they’ve lost two out of their last three fights, the fans feel they don’t rate a title shot. Martirosyan fell into the position because of Canelo pulling out of the fight, and GGG needing a quick replacement opponent that the casual boxing fans have heard of.
“We feel that Vanes is a better candidate than Spike,” Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler said. “He’s [O’Sullivan] fighting on Friday night, and he has a great opportunity on ESPN. But naturally the financials change when you go from pay-per-view in a big arena in Las Vegas to the StubHub Center. We weren’t able to work out a deal with Spike, but we feel Vanes, especially at being rated No.1 with the WBC, he’s a very credible opponent and you see that. He has a very strong fan base in Los Angeles, so it makes sense all the way around. We feel that way. No one can underestimate Vanes. He has that amateur experience, and that world class experience, especially with the TV exposure. Vanes isn’t going to be intimidated walking into the ring,” Loeffler said.
Martirosyan isn’t that credible as a legitimate opponent. Martirosyan doesn’t fight at middleweight, he’s beatable, and he’s got the name recognition that Team Golovkin needs to pull in fans in the Los Angeles area to purchase tickets, and get viewers to tune in and watch him on HBO on May 5.
“I love the sport of boxing. I feel good,” Golovkin said. “The last 7, 8 years, I’ve been champion. I’m a very small guy. Vanes is bigger. I didn’t want to wait until September. I want 3 to 4 fights per year. I want to stay active,” GGG said.
Martirosyan is not bigger than Golovkin. The two fighters are the same size a 5’10 1/2.” In terms of weight, Golovkin looks a little heavier than Martirosyan.
Golovkin has ruled out moving up to super middleweight on a permanent basis in the future for a big fight, but he doesn’t want to stay at 168.
”Okay, if I have a big fight, of course, I come. With who, tell me,” Golovkin said about moving up to super middleweight in the future for an occasional big fight.
There are a couple of possible big fights for Golovkin in the near future at super middleweight starting with the winner of the World Boxing Super Series between George Groves and Callum Smith. The other somewhat big fight for Golovkin is Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, the WBO 168 lb. champion. If WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez keeps winning, he might be an option as well for Golovkin, although he used to be one of GGG’s sparring partners, so he probably isn’t the ideal opponent for him to fight.
Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler asked the International Boxing Federation for an exception so that GGG could sidestep his IBF mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko in favor or Martirosyan for his next fight on May 5. Loeffler says he’s going out in the next week whether the IBF will give him the exception or not.
“It’s my job to worry about the IBF belt,” Loeffler said. “He’s focused on the fight, and I’m worried about all the titles. He wanted to fight. He was in the middle of training camp, so he wanted to stay active just like he said, and that’s what we’re doing. Vanes, we have to give him all the respect. Don King called and said Vanes is available for the opportunity, and this is a huge opportunity for Vanes,” Loeffler said.
It’s believed that there’s a real potential that Golovkin could have his IBF title stripped from him by the sanctioning body for not using Derevyanchenko as his opponent on May 5. It’s not going to be the end of the world if Golovkin loses his IBF title, because Derevyanchenko’s management aren’t going to likely play games with Golovkin and make him wait two or three years before they give him a fight the way Canelo Alvarez did with GGG. If Derevyanchenko wins the IBF title, he’s going to give Golovkin a title shot as soon as possible, because he’s probably not going to get fights against Canelo, Billy Joe Saunders or Ryota Murata. Those guys aren’t going to want to waste time with Derevyanchenko because he’s not a big name, and he’s more of a threat than he’s worth it.
”Listen; if there’s an upset on May 5, this is a huge opportunity for him,” Loeffler said. ”He’s very hungry, and Gennady, it’s his job to defend his titles. When you have a lot of titles, you have a lot of obligations. We filed for an exception. It’s not unusual, especially with the IBF, because they have such stringent rules. If you have a long time champion and a long time unified champion like Triple G, sometimes you have to file for an exception. So we did that, so we’ll learn, especially by the end of the week or the beginning of next week how they rule with the exception,” Loeffler said.
Martirosyan can put himself in position to get a huge payday if he beats Golovkin on May 5th. Since this a voluntary defense, Martirosyan will likely need to face Golovkin twice before he can move on and look to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez, but the money will still be very good in a rematch.
The IBF should make their decision shortly whether they’ll grant the exception to allow GGG to keep his IBF title. If the IBF does strip Golovkin, they’ll end up with a less popular champion after Sergiy Derevyanchenko faces the next highest ranked available contender for the vacant IBF title. As of now, Derevyanchenko would face Daniel Jacobs. I’m not sure Jacobs would accept that fight, as he’s fighting for the WBA mandatory spot against Maciej Sulecki this Saturday night on HBO Boxing from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Jacobs would likely prefer to take the bigger money fight against Golovkin for the WBA title than he would in facing Derevyanchenko for the IBF belt and the likely smaller money.
“He’s a great fighter,” Golovkin said about Martirosyan. “I believe it’s not an easy fight. So many people said he’s an easy fight for you. I don’t know. This is boxing. Nobody knows. I believe in my style. I believe in my power. I believe I win. It’s not a big problem,” Golovkin said when asked about him training for a different style. “I believe my style is much better. I don’t care for any records. Record is record. This is business. Nobody loves difficult business. Yeah, of course,” Golovkin said when asked if he’s interested in fighting Jermall Charlo. “Right now my focus is on my next fight on May 5th. If he wants, of course, we’ll talk after my fight if I win,” Golovkin said.
Golovkin is getting a little carried away in saying that the 31-year-old Martirosyan is a “great fighter.” With 2 defeats in his last 3 fights, Martirosyan is not a great fighter obviously. He’s a good fighter, who beats most of the contenders in the division, but who will consistently fall apart when matched against the best. Martirosyan’s stamina is shaky and he can be hurt. Martirosyan is a good 4-round fighter. After the 4th, he tends to get tired and his work production drops off dramatically. If Martirosyan sticks to the same pattern that he has when facing quality opposition, he’ll likely get knocked out by Golovkin.
After the way Golovkin fought his last two opponents Jacobs and Canelo, it’s difficult to say for sure how he’ll choose to fight Martirosyan. Golovkin boxed both of them instead of using his power to try and knock them out. Golovkin is far less effective when he’s boxing his opponents, and he allows the judges to give rounds to his opponents based on them landing a two or three good shots. That’s what judges do unfortunately. Unless someone like Golovkin shoots for knockouts in his fights, he’s going to be put in a position where the judges will ignore what he does with his jab and boxing and instead give rounds to his opponents if they land some hard shots.