BACK IN THE RING

A.J. Hoffman: Even without Canelo, GGG's next fight is worth a watch

Gennady Golovkin is worth watching. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I know, I know. This was supposed to be a preview of the biggest fight boxing can put on. This was supposed to be a preview of Gennady Golovkin getting revenge for the horrific judging that put the only blemish, albeit a draw, on his record. Alas, Canelo Alvarez ate some bad beef, and here we are, settling for what at first glance doesn’t appear to be a very competitive matchup. 

Vanes Martirosyan isn’t Canelo Alvarez. He isn’t even Billy Joe Saunders, Demetrius Andrade, Jamie Munguia or Jermall Charlo. He is an interesting opponent for a few reasons, though. He sits at 36-3-1, and none of those losses carry any shame. He fought Erislandy Lara twice, to a technical draw in 2012 and a close loss in 2016. He lost to Jermell Charlo and the aforementioned Demetrius Andrade, also in very competitive fights. Martirosyan has a solid right hand, good hand speed and does a good job of avoiding counterpunches.  He is also a fighter with nothing to lose. There is really no scenario where Martirosyan underperforms his expectations in this bout. He is supposed to be a sacrificial lamb, and even making the fight competitive would be considered a bit of a moral victory. 

Here is the bad news for Vanes. He hasn’t fought in two years. He is also not a natural middleweight, and will likely be the smaller man in the ring on Saturday night. 

Golovkin is the one with everything to lose. He realizes that this fight is all that stands between him and a likely date in September for the Canelo rematch, and the large pile of money that would come along with that fight (although recent reports have GGG saying he isn’t all that interested in the fight anymore). Golovkin has gone the distance in his last two fights. As unlucky as he was on the scorecards against Canelo the first time out, he may have been as lucky on them in his fight with Daniel Jacobs. Jacobs was the first man that made Golovkin look beatable. He is 36 years old after all, and probably not she same terminator he was five years ago, which means every fight at this point is a risk. 

GGG still is the best pressure fighter in the sport. Maybe he will look at this fight as a chance to sharpen up for a bigger fight. Maybe he will look to prove that he can still put guys to sleep and show Canelo and Oscar De La Hoya that he doesn’t feel as old as they have tried to make him sound of late. Maybe he is overly frustrated with the entire situation, and doesn’t perform as well as he should against this opponent because he is distracted.

At the end of the day, you watch Golovkin fights for two reasons. A- You want to see someone push him and make him look human. B- You want to see him behead another challenger and have another unintentionally hilarious post-fight interview with Max Kellerman. Whichever one of those two categories you fall into, Saturday night has the possibility of scratching your GGG itch. 

PREDICTION: Golovkin by KO (Round 2)

Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) takes on Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 knockouts) Saturday night at 10:00 CST on HBO.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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