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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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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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