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Golovkin vs Martirosyan: Fight preview and matchup

Gennady Golovkin takes on Vanes Martirosyan this Saturday on HBO.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin v Canelo Alvarez Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Record: 37-0-1 (33 KO) ... Streak: D1 ... Last 5: 4-0-1 ... Last 10: 9-0-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’10½” / 70” ... Age: 36

Thoughts: Well, this sure was supposed to be a much bigger fight and fight week for us here at the ol’ BLH, and in the boxing world in general. We were supposed to be seeing Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez rematch, the date anticipated since their first meeting, not even just after the draw was read, but really even before the fight happened. It was going to do big business, so barring some massively lopsided contest, a rematch was in the cards. It would still be boxing’s biggest fight.

And it still was. But then Saul ate the bad meat and pissed hot (or had blood taken or whatever, I don’t care about the specifics, honestly), and pulled out before he could even be judged by the Nevada commission. There are varying schools of thought on that whole story, and I fall in the camp that suspects, given his test levels, he honestly did accidentally ingest clenbuterol. I mean, if he’s cheating, with his money, at his level, why would it be clenbuterol, which is easily caught by the tests he’s taking? I don’t believe him or his team to be that stupid.

But anyway, we don’t have that fight. And we don’t have Demetrius Andrade or Billy Joe Saunders or Spike O’Sullivan or Jaime Munguia or any of the other names that came into the conversation as a replacement. It’s Vanes Martirosyan across the ring from GGG on Saturday.

Golovkin has gone the distance in his last two fights, with Daniel Jacobs and Canelo, but I don’t think we’ll see that here. This is a chance for a freshly 36-year-old Golovkin to look like The Terminator again, taking on a career junior middleweight who hasn’t fought in 24 months. There is danger in any fight, and Martirosyan is a good pro who can’t be shrugged off entirely, but Golovkin is the clear favorite and should be. Anything less than a dominant performance from GGG will re-start the talk that he’s past his prime, and even a dominant performance probably wouldn’t impress many people.

Vanes Martirosyan

Yuri Foreman v Miguel Cotto Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Record: 36-3-1 (21 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 6-3-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’11½” / 70” ... Age: 32

Thoughts: Honest to God, I like Vanes Martirosyan as a fighter. He’s given Erislandy Lara two tough fights, in my opinion, that technical draw back in 2012 and the loss to Lara in Vanes’ last fight in May 2016, where I had Martirosyan a lot closer than just about anyone, to be fair. His other losses — to Jermell Charlo and Demetrius Andrade — were also competitive fights against top fighters.

But it’s hard to ignore a couple things. First, he hasn’t fought in two years. That’s a big red flag. Second, he’s not a natural middleweight, and Golovkin is. As far as dimensions, Vanes is listed an inch taller than Gennady with the same reach. He’s also four years younger. But Golovkin, I suspect, is going to look like and be the bigger man in the ring on Saturday, and I don’t think GGG’s age is the issue some feel it has become. Yeah, he’s getting older, but not so old that I think it’s a problem in this matchup.

You do have give Martirosyan credit for stepping up and fighting GGG, at least on some level. Yes, it’s a big fight and good money and a no-lose situation for Vanes — if he gets crushed in a round, it’s not like anyone is really expecting him to do a lot more than that. If he makes it a fight at all, he will have exceeded expectations. If he were to shock the world and pull off the upset, he becomes, as a veteran, a sudden top star in the sport. But saying you’ll do it and doing it are two different things. Vanes is doing it.

Martirosyan’s best chance in this fight is GGG being distracted, or annoyed, or frustrated that he’s not fighting Canelo Alvarez again. We all know that’s what Golovkin really wanted, as not only is it a bigger fight, and by a lot, but it was a chance to avenge the only blemish on his pro record, one he and many others don’t think he should have in the first place. If Golovkin lets outside distractions and whatnot affect his performance, Martirosyan might have a shot at catching him at less than his best. And honestly, that’s the only way I see Vanes beating GGG, or even making this a fight at all.

Matchup Grade: D. I’m not trying to be a “hater” about this fight. I’m not trying to be a dick. I’m not trying to put Martirosyan down. If anyone is honest, though, they have to see what I see on paper, and we’re only talking about “on paper” before the fight. If this were Jaime Munguia, a great young prospect who tried to take the fight with Golovkin, I’d be saying roughly the same things, just from a different perspective. If this were Spike O’Sullivan, who was offered the fight and turned it down, I might be even harsher, because I think O’Sullivan would have had an even worse chance against GGG than Martirosyan does. It is a short-notice fight, made out of desperation, the best promoters could do given the situation. I have a lot of respect for Martirosyan, and he says he’s going to take the fight to Golovkin. Maybe he’ll prove everyone wrong. If he so much as gives a good effort, frankly, I’ll be satisfied as a boxing fan. Nobody is unbeatable, and they have to fight the fight still. My hope is Vanes does better than we expect. I’d much rather be wrong and have a good fight than right and have a bad one. It’s much more fun that way.

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