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