(L-R) Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan attend a media day for their upcoming May 5 fight at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Photo: CHRIS FARINA / Chris Farina Photography / @ChrisFarinaPhoto
GLENDALE, Calif., April 24, 2018 – Unified middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and middleweight challenger Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan joined their teams for a media day at the Glendale Fighting Club in advance of their May 5 bout at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Also present was unified women’s welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, the acknowledged number one pound for pound women’s professional boxer. Braekhus fights on the undercard.
Members of the boxing media attend these events regularly. We know what to expect, and they are generally routine. But there were several remarkable aspects to Monday’s event. First, that it came together at all. Given all the moving parts it takes to put on a fight including the accelerated promotional timeline after original opponent Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was suspended, it’s not easy to get everyone’s calendar together so quickly on no notice less than two weeks out from a championship bout.
The key players were late arriving, easily blamed on the usual Southern California traffic snarl. No matter, the mood was congenial. It couldn’t have been a more relaxed afternoon. Interviews included a healthy dose of friendly greetings, laughter, and good spirits. This included the combatants themselves, Golovkin and Martirosyan, who greet each other warmly and show aggression only when they discuss the outcome in the ring on May 5 as professionals.
See video highlights of GGG vs. Martirosyan media day here.
If there was ever a situation where professional athletes and their teams would feel thrown off and out of sorts, it’s this one. After an unexpected month of tension and uncertainty over what would happen, a fight came together, and everyone involved is relieved to be getting on with it.
Tickets for the bout at the Stub Hub Center quickly sold out at the lower prices, and as of press time sales are on track to break the all time boxing attendance record set by Golovkin in 2014 in his first West Coast appearance against Marco Antonio Rubio at 9,323.
Southern California boxing fans are among the sharpest and most devoted in the U.S.
They are quietly scrambling to take advantage of a golden opportunity to see not merely one, but two of the world’s top pound for pound boxers up close, along with the return of another pound-for-pound name, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
The bout will air on HBO Boxing instead of pay-per-view. No expensive week in Las Vegas or pay-per-view fees involved. It’s a pugilistic party, a fisticuffs fiesta under the Southern California sun. Food trucks, cerveza and boxing on May 5. What’s not to like?
Ask the boxing haters. There are plenty of them, all eager to tell you on YouTube, in online comments, and to your face why this fight is a disappointment, a disgrace, or worse in words we choose not to publish on our website.
Here’s the real headscratcher: many of them blame Team Golovkin. They criticize everything from the outspoken reaction to Canelo Alvarez’s positive drug test, to the choice of opponent, to the venue and the date.
Look forward in boxing, but don’t forget to enjoy today
This column rarely veers into the commentary lane, but this writer is worn out. We get it, you wanted to see Golovkin fight Alvarez, an opponent he clearly defeated already in every way except on suspect scorecards. It’s not happening. Ask yourself: whose fault is this? One man: Canelo Alvarez. He is ultimately responsible for every aspect of his training and performance as a professional, and he let everyone including himself down.
Champions are not forever
Now it’s time to make the best of things. Champions aren’t around forever.
Father Time moves on. Injuries occur. Don’t count on tomorrow in sports. Live for today, fight fans.
Fans will get every dime of their boxing entertainment dollar on Saturday, May 5. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, boxing’s longest-reigning world champion (since 2010), will be defending his World Middleweight Championship crown for the 20th consecutive and record-tying time, against former two-time world title challenger and current number one contender Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), from Glendale, California.
Respect outside the ring, ready for la guerra inside the ring
From the comments on Monday and the happy atmosphere, what’s not to like?
“I am happy that Cinco De Mayo will still have boxing,” said Golovkin. “It is good for the sport … Cinco De Mayo is a big night for a fight and for a Mexican-Style fighter like me. It is very important to me to be fighting again, to be fighting on Cinco De Mayo. I didn’t want to disappoint the fans who wanted a fight on a Mexican holiday.”
Golovkin said he never stopped training, never stopped being optimistic a fight would come together. As for Alvarez, he’s in the rear view mirror. “I no longer think about Canelo. I am only focused on this fight.” Golovkin says he remembers Martirosyan when both competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics. “Vanes is a strong and active fighter in the ring. He is a good fighter, Vanes is a real guy. A real fighter. He is tall and strong. In 2004, I thought Vanes was the best boxer on the U.S. Olympic team.”
Martirosyan, who hasn’t been in the ring in two years, is eager to test himself against Golovkin. “It will show where I belong in this sport. I was able to take advantage of this opportunity because I never left the gym, even when previously scheduled fights kept falling through. I would take a week off and then return to the gym. It was hard but I never lost faith.
“A good fighter stays ready, stays in shape. How many times have we heard that about an opponent falling out and a replacement getting that golden ticket to fight for a world title?”
Martirosyan says he doesn’t buy Alvarez’s story about failing two drugs test or withdrawing from VADA.
“If, God forbid, I had tested positive because of accidentally eating something, I would have myself tested every day to prove I was clean. No one wants to see someone cheat his way into a fight. That’s why fans love Triple G. Because he is so good in the ring and because he is clean. He has always been tested. He wants boxing to be a clean sport as do I.”
“I have been counted out before and I have shined. This is my time. Fate has reached out to me and I am ready to seize the moment. You can never plan for something like this, but you can be prepared, and that’s why I never left the gym.
“We may not be Mexican but I guarantee you it’s going to feel like two Mexicans are going to war on Cinco De Mayo … Everyone has a soft spot. I’ll find his. I have no fear.
“We’re both hardheaded and heavy-handed. To me, it’s not a REAL fight without a lot of Mexican fans. I’m not fighting to survive. I’ll be fighting to win!”
Martirosyan admitted to a little extra motivation. “Before I knew I had this fight, I asked my wife who her favorite fighter was, besides me. She told me Gennady Golovkin, yeah, he’s very humble how he carries himself. So now I have to beat his ass for that (laughing).”
Boxing haters, please get out of our way while we enjoy the Big Drama Show
For those haters determined to whine, pout, gripe, bitch, troll, and criticize, enough already. We’ve heard it. No one is putting a gun to your head to watch or buy a ticket. The rest of us are having a dang good time and we’re going to have a fiesta with or without you – preferably without if you don’t adjust your attitude.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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