SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 18, 2018 – After a never-ending series of rumors, a news conference with no news last week, and a quiet settlement between Canelo Alvarez and the Nevada State Athletic Commission early Wednesday, boxing fans can now make their plans for one of the biggest days on the boxing calendar.
Via news release to the boxing media, promoters confirmed 31-year-old Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), a native of Armenia fighting out of Glendale, California, was confirmed as Golovkin’s opponent on Saturday, May 5. The bout will take place at the fabled StubHub Center in Carson, California, practically a hometown fight for both men.
HBO Boxing will broadcast the bout on its regular channel. It is no longer a pay per view event. The undercard remains TBD, but Loeffler indicated he would like to add number one pound for pound women’s boxing champion Cecelia Braekhus of Norway. Also available is former pound for pound champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua. Fighters expected on the original Las Vegas under the Golden Boy banner including Ryan Garcia and Spike O’Sullivan are now scheduled for a Friday, May 4 card at the StubHub Center.
“Vanes Martirosyan is now the most important fight of my career. He has my respect and I am training hard to defend my titles against him,” said Golovkin in a written statement. “I am happy to be back on HBO and fighting at StubHub Center because they have great boxing fans. I will give my fans another big drama show.”
“Gennady has had such a terrific training camp in Big Bear. It wouldn’t be fair to him to let it go to waste just because Canelo was being punished,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer. “Gennady is going to light up Cinco De Mayo as only a true Mexican-style fighter can. I can’t wait to unleash him.”
Promoter Tom Loeffler said extra bleachers would be added to the StubHub Center for the bout, as it was for his bout there in 2014 against Marco Antonio Rubio in which he set the venue’s all-time attendance record. “When you think about all the great champions and exciting world title fights StubHub has hosted, that’s quite an accomplishment. Vanes Martirosyan brings a passionate Armenian fan base from nearby Glendale and an aggressive style of fighting. Best of all, he is ready and wants the fight. Golovkin vs. Martirosyan will definitely be the fiesta de résistance of Cinco De Mayo.”
“I’ve been training my ass off. I’m sparring, I’m on weight,” Martirosyan recently told the Los Angeles Times. “When they asked me if I’d take this fight, I said yes. I didn’t ask about money at all. It’s a good show for L.A. Cinco De Mayo. Armenians will pack the place. I have a lot of Mexican fans. I do believe in my heart I’m going to beat (Golovkin) because he’s never fought someone with my style.”
Martirosyan made no secret of his interest in the fight. Martirosyan has fought most of his career at super welterweight. He challenged twice for a super welterweight title, losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade in 2013, and losing a unanimous decision to Erislandy Lara in his last fight in May 2016, both competitive fights. Martirosyan knocked Andrade down in the first round of their bout. Martirosyan also held the WBC Silver title from 2011 to 2012. He is not ranked at middleweight by any of the four major sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF).
But Martirosyan, though well-liked in boxing circles, is no Canelo Alvarez. He isn’t a rated middleweight or a mandatory challenger in any sense of the word. Fights fell through with potential opponents Jaime Munguia of Mexico (too inexperienced), Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (a Golden Boy stablemate of Alvarez who declined getting too small a payday for a beatdown), and a unification fight with WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders runs up against a bout scheduled in June with Martin Murray.
Promoter Lou DiBella hasn’t been happy about the situation. Last week, he asked the IBF to order a mandatory defense by Golovkin against his number one contender, Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Via Twitter, DiBella commented, “There is NO provision for delaying a mandatory because a fight canceled due to a suspension for two failed drug tests. NONE. Nor should there be.”
When we reached out to DiBella last week asking if he would request the IBF strip Golovkin of his middleweight title for avoiding a mandatory defense, DiBella answered “Unequivocally, but I might not even have to ask the @IBFUSAboxing,” indicating the sanctioning body might do so on its own. Golovkin has never wavered from his ultimate goal of unifying all four major titles in the division. He currently holds all by the WBO title, now in the hands of Saunders of Great Britain.
Tom Loeffler told news media last week it would do the matchup an injustice with only three weeks’ of promotion time. Additionally, from his standpoint, Martirosyan is an ideal style matchup for the hard-hitting Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs). Martirosyan is a come-forward, no-frills puncher.
Early in the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission made its original temporary suspension of Alvarez permanent for six months in a settlement agreement announced before its scheduled hearing. It is retroactive to the date of his original positive test, meaning he will be available to get back in the ring in September.
The only comment came in a written statement issued to the boxing media by Golden Boy Promotions. It said in part, “As we have maintained all along, the trace amounts of clenbuterol found in Canelo’s system in February came from meat contamination, and we provided the Nevada State Athletic Commission with a great deal of evidence to support those facts. Although most professional sports, international anti-doping agencies and United States boxing commissions treat meat contamination differently from other positive tests, Nevada does not. Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions respect the rules of Nevada and are therefore satisfied with the settlement agreement reached today.” Golden Boy said it looks forward to Alvarez’s return in September.
What happens in September is far from assured. Alvarez recently underwent minor knee surgery to remove a cyst. He may want to test the knee with another middleweight opponent in September before a rematch with Golovkin. Meanwhile, there is the issue with Derevyanchenko.
Then there is Billy Joe Saunders of Great Britain, who holds the single title Golovkin needs to win to become the unified, undisputed middleweight champion. This has always been his primary goal. Should he fight Saunders and win, Golovkin could choose to say goodbye to the middleweight division – or even say goodbye to boxing for good. Alvarez is no longer of interest to him at that point.
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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