By Sean Jones: Max Kellerman says middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is looking bad in the eyes of some boxing fans for picking junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan for his May 5 fight instead of one of the top contenders in the middleweight division such as Demetrius Andrade or Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs).
Kellerman believes that Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) will look good in the eyes of some boxing fans by him selecting Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), because he’s a beatable opponent and he’ll likely look good in defeating him. In turn the boxing public will be more excited than ever to see Golovkin face Saul Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) in a rematch on September 15.
Kellerman gets that part, but he believes it’s still a bad look on the short term for Golovkin for him not facing Andrade or Derevyanchenko. If the International Boxing Federation strips Golovkin for not facing his IBF mandatory Derevyancheko, then it’s going to look worse on him for avoiding that fight. A lot of fans are already saying Golovkin ducked Derevyanchenko, and they equate that to him being less of a fighter than the Ukrainian.
“Rather than fight [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko, defending against a good technical fighter, undefeated on his way up, who poses a threat, he’s defending against [Vanes] Martirosyan, who’s a well-known fighter in boxing circles, but a junior middleweight, who hasn’t fought in a couple of years and is very unlikely to pose a stiff challenge to Triple G,” Max Kellerman said to ESPN’s First Take about Golovkin. “The reason that makes Triple G look bad in the short term is because for years he was he most avoided fighter in the sport,” Kellerman said. “None of the big stars wanted to fight Triple G. No one wanted to go near him. Suddenly, it looks like he’s the fighters avoiding, because rather than fighting his mandatory against a stiff challenge, he’s taking an easier tune-up to keep people interested in which he’ll likely look very good to keep people interested in his fight with Canelo. That’s to say nothing of the fact that they’re not going to fight someone like Demetrius Andrade or one of the Charlo brothers or someone like that who are better fighters than Martirosyan; certainly in Andrade’s case, they’re willing to fight right now,” Kellerman said.
I don’t think Golovkin is necessarily avoiding Derevyanchenko out of fear. It’s more of situation where he and his promoter Tom Loeffler don’t feel that there’s enough time to prepare for the fight given that Canelo Alvarez pulled out of the fight with 3 weeks to go. Derevyanchenko is not the type of fighter that should be fought on three weeks’ notice. If the shoe was on the other foot and Derevyanchenko was the champion. He likely wouldn’t be eager to have to defend against GGG on three weeks’ notice.
The 32-year-old Derevyanchenko is willing to take the fight with Golovkin on short notice, because he’s not a world champion, and he’s probably not going to get a fight against him until 2019. Derevyanchenko obviously would have been worried if Golovkin called his bluff, and said, ‘Let’s fight on May 5.’ It would have put Derevyanchenko and his promoter Lou Dibella in a situation where they would have less than one month to prepare for GGG. With all the time it took Derevyanchenko to get his title shot, he would be set back to square one if Golovkin had fought him and knocked him out, which would likely be the case because the Ukrainian isn’t a big puncher despite having a lot of knockouts on his record.
Derevyanchenko’s knockouts have come against mostly weak opposition. He’s only fought one good fighter in Tureano Johnson during his career, and he was knocked out by former GGG victim Curtis Stevens. Derevyanchenko is a decent fighter, but he would likely lose to GGG badly if that fight were to happen. Daniel Jacobs and Jermall Charlo are arguably far more talented than Derevyanchenko in physical skills such hand speed, power and athleticism.
”People understand you don’t fight the guy right now, and know that it’s between fights, but why aren’t you fighting your mandatory,” Kellerman said in continuing to criticize Golovkin for not facing Derevyanchenko. ”So the short term it looks bad for Triple G.”
It looks bad to the hardcore boxing fans that follow the sport closely enough to know who Derevyanchenko is, but the fact of the matter is, the casual fans don’t know who the guy is. Derevyanchenko is not well-known at all in the U.S. As far as I can tell, Derevyanchenko has been on U.S TV a couple of times on Showtime, and the fights weren’t seen by a lot of people. Derevyanchenko isn’t a big enough name yet for the fans to be bothered that Golovkin didn’t fight him.
The reality is Golovkin needed an opponent on short notice after Canelo pulled out of the fight three weeks before the May 5th date. Golovkin’s management didn’t want to fight someone too good with the little time there was to prepare for that fighter. Martirosyan was the perfect opponent. Demetrius is said to have been ruled out because he’s a southpaw, and it takes a lot of time to prepare for that style. Derevyanchenko is a mover, and that would have required a full eight weeks for Golovkin to prepare for a fighter that moves around the ring a lot. If Derevyanchenko was more of a stationary fighter, he probably would have stood a better chance of getting the fight with GGG.
”The fallout of all of this, of course, once he beats up Martirosyan, if in fact that’s what happens, people will forget all about it, and he’ll go back to being Triple G, the guy that everyone wants to see. It’s a grudge match now,” Kellerman said of the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. “It went from a highly competitive, in terms of the decision, most people thought Triple G won it, it was a draw. I thought a draw was defensible. I also thought Triple G won. It goes from an exciting rematch with exciting styles in a good match-up to a grudge match,” Kellerman said.
Kellerman is right about the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight being a lot bigger now due to the controversial 12 round draw from last time they fought in September, the wacky scores by two of the judges, and with the two positive tests for clenbuterol by the Mexican star. All that makes the Canelo-GGG rematch a lot bigger potentially than it was before.
”Martirosyan is a good fighter. He hasn’t fought in a while,” Kellerman said. ”He’s a junior middleweight. He’s a big underdog, but he’s a good fighter and he makes good fights. So if Triple G is in a good fight in which he looks dominate, people will tend to forget the details leading up. What they’ll be looking for is to see Triple G in the ring again as soon as possible against Canelo. The May 5th fight is now possible given Canelo’s six-month suspension,” Kellerman said.
Martirosyan will make it an exciting fight between him and GGG. You can’t say the same thing about Derevyanchenko, because he tends to move a lot, stay on the outside jabbing, and he ties up his opponents. If you look at Derevyanchenko’s fight against Tureano Johnson, he was boxing him most of the fight, and it was boring to watch. Johnson made it interesting with his pressure, but Derevyanchenko was holding, jabbing and moving. It was dull.
Martirosyan will look to engage with Golovkin, and it’ll be very exciting from start to finish. Martirosyan will help build the Canelo-Golovkin 2 fight a lot more than Derevyanchenko, who could hurt it badly if he runs and spoils for 12 rounds and makes it ugly against GGG. That type of style if one that Golovkin would have to chase the Ukrainian fighter around the ring for 12 rounds. This isn’t the right time for Golovkin to be fighting a runner and spoiler like Derevyanchenko.