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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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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