Well there is no denying that Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) vs. Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) isn’t the much-anticipated matchup for Cinco de Mayo weekend that boxing fans were hoping for, but we should appreciate the effort from Golovkin’s team in making a fight happen under the circumstances.

Fight fans were supposed to be getting ready for one of the biggest rematches in boxing history, Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez on May 5, but after controversy with tainted meat and failed random drug tests, Alvarez pulled out of the fight before the judgement by the Nevada Athletic Commission which later suspended Alvarez for six months.

Finding an opponent for Saturday night was not an easy process. Names like Demetrius Andrade, Billy Joe Saunders, Jaime Munguia and Spike O’Sullivan were all talked about at one point or another. Yet, it will be Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan across the ring from Gennady “GGG” Golovkin at Stubhub Center in Carson, California on May 5. The bout will be aired live on HBO at 11:00 PM ET.

GGG is making his return to the ring after a contentious draw to Canelo last September and will be defending his WBA and WBC middleweight titles against the late replacement Martirosyan in his first fight of 2018.

Golovkin’s IBF belt will not be on the line as the sanctioning body did not approve Martirosyan as an opponent. A win for Golovkin Saturday night will tie Bernard Hopkins for most consecutive title defenses in the Middleweight division at 20.

Let’s be honest, this is not an ideal fight. Reported repeatedly, Martirosyan has not been in the ring in two years and in his last fight he lost via unanimous decision to the tough and crafty Erislandy Lara. On top of all of that, Martirosyan is also moving up from Super Welterweight to the 160-pound division.

Martirosyan has continually been hounded leading up to this fight about his long layoff but when speaking to HBO he fired back.

“Throughout the year, two camps started on and off. Every time we started, somebody pulled out. The last was the WBC mandatory against [Maciej] Sulecki on March 17,” said Martirosyan. “We were getting ready for that and that didn’t happen because Sulecki pulled out to fight Danny Jacobs. So then we took a week off and got back in the gym again. It’s been like that for the past year…”

Even though Martirosyan is not on the same level as Alvarez, Golovkin should not sleep on The Nightmare because it would in fact quickly turn into a nightmare for GGG. In regards to body stats, Martirosyan is an inch taller than Golovkin but has the same reach. Martirosyan also has the advantage in age being four years younger than Golovkin.

The biggest difference will likely be size Saturday night, it will be interesting to see how much bigger Golovkin is than Martirosyan and how much it plays into the outcome. With all of that being said, I imagine that Golovkin’s size will have a bigger influence than Martirosyan’s slight advantage in height and age.

Golovkin has gone the distance in his last two fights with Canelo and Jacobs, but it isn’t likely that will be the case again against Martirosyan. While Martirosyan should be given credit for taking this fight, Golovkin simply has unmatched power (I mean he knocks people out with his jab) and also proved in his last fight against Canelo that his fundamental boxing skills have been underestimated.

In all reality, Martirosyan’s best chance Saturday night would be that GGG is irritated and less tuned in because of the fact that he isn’t fighting Canelo Alvarez again.

Like most boxing fans, Golovkin really wanted the rematch with Canelo. It was a much bigger fight for him and it was his opportunity to clear up the only blemish on his record which he and many others believe he shouldn’t have anyways.

Golovkin can’t let the drama of the rematch falling through affect his performance as this is Martirosyan’s small chance to catch him while he is distracted.

Yet while talking to HBO, Golovkin assured that this wouldn’t be the case. “We continued to work as if we were fighting an elite fighter on May 5, “said Golovkin. “We waited patiently for Tom Loeffler to tell us who it was, but we never stopped training hard and focused on a tough opponent.”

Prediction: I am always one to root for the underdog but I don’t see this fight ending well for Martirosyan. I believe once Martirosyan feels the power of Golovkin, he will, like a lot of GGG’s other opponents, lose his confidence quickly.

This fight isn’t likely to go the distance–I foresee Golovkin putting on a dominant performance and finishing Martirosyan in one of the middle rounds.

Though this is merely a placeholder fight and to keep Golovkin in ring-ready shape (in hopes that come September Canelo-GGG 2 finally happens), it’s kind of a lose-lose situation for Golovkin.

Even with an impressive win, few will be impressed, and if he puts on a less dominant performance, talk will proceed that he’s past his prime.

Boxing fans should be happy that there is a fight at all, but trust me, you and I both are disappointed that the Mexican Canelo Alvarez and the Mexican style fighter in Gennady Golovkin aren’t going toe-to-toe on Cinco de Mayo 2018.


Header photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO

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