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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome