CARSON, Calif., May 4, 2018 – Boxing fans all know the backstory by now. After Canelo Alvarez withdrew from the originally scheduled rematch with Gennady Golovkin, an intense search for a replacement tapped local favorite Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), 31, a native of Armenia as Golovkin’s (37-0-1, 33 KOs) opponent on Saturday, May 5. The bout takes place at the fabled StubHub Center in Carson, California, practically a hometown fight for both men.
A different Big Drama Show than expected
There is a saying: “Dance with the one that brought you.” Support what you have and appreciate it, instead of wasting time pining for something better.
Sure, it’s not the Big Drama Show many fans hoped for. For everyone who can put aside any disappointment, there’s a lot to like about this matchup. First, you’re going to save some dough. HBO Boxing will broadcast the bout on its regular channel. It is no longer a pay per view event. More money for your Cinco de Mayo refreshments.
Second, for those who can get to Southern California Saturday, there’s no better place to watch boxing on a warm, starlit evening than the confines of the Stub Hub Center, home to numerous Fights of the Year over the last decade. It’s a place where every seat feels as if it’s right on top of the ring. Some sort of magic works on the fighters and the fans in the open air arena. Good fights there become great, and great fights become legendary.
Third, there’s a good argument to be made that Martirosyan is a better opponent from a stylistic standpoint than Alvarez from an entertainment standpoint. Alvarez fought Golovkin cautiously and at distance for all but the last few rounds of their bout. Martirosyan will put himself right in harm’s way and go for broke against Golovkin. He has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, even in a losing effort.
“There’s no pressure on me … It’s my time, I know it’s my time,” said Martirosyan after the weigh-in, as a boisterous group of his Glendale fans cheered him on. They will be out in force on Saturday and enjoying every minute of it.
Martirosyan: A puncher’s chance
Martirosyan is a taller, leaner man than Golovkin. He’s fought most of his career at junior middleweight. He has good hand speed, and if he comes out aggressively and comes right at Golovkin, he may win some rounds on points early. He certainly has a puncher’s chance. It will be fun to watch.
It will also be fun to watch the more powerful, experienced Golovkin begin to cut off the ring and start drilling Martirosyan after the Armenian has had his bit of fun. We will likely see a fight similar to Golovkin’s bout against Kell Brook, a fast, skilled, but eventually overpowered opponent.
“I hope everybody’s ready, because I will give the fans a big gift on Cinco de Mayo,” promised Golovkin after his weigh-in. “Thanks to my opponent, Vanes Martirosyan … This is boxing, nobody knows. One punch can change lives,” said Golovkin.
The unified middleweight champion has added incentive; with a win, Golovkin can tie the record of Bernard Hopkins for successful middleweight title defenses at 20 with a win on Saturday.
Golovkin weighed right at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds, with Martirosyan at 159.6 pounds.
Golovkin vs. Martirosyan: Our prediction
Martirosyan has maintained his training, but hasn’t been in the ring in two years. There’s no substitute for staying active. We see Golovkin getting his first stoppage after two decisions in a row. He’ll be plenty motivated to make a statement. Martirosyan will be tougher than people give him credit for, but getting into the later rounds will be a moral victory for him. We’ll call this a TKO in eight rounds.
HBO Boxing makes history, airing first ever women’s professional fight
In the opening bout, HBO Boxing makes history with its first ever women’s professional championship fight aired on the network. They could not have a better debut. The number one pound for pound women’s boxer in the world, Cecelia “The First Lady” Braekhus of Norway (32-0, 9 KOs) faces American Kelli Reis (13-6, 4 KOs) in a ten-round welterweight bout. Braekhus is currently the only undisputed, unified champion in all of boxing, holding all five women’s welterweight titles.
Reis is a natural middleweight who agreed to come down to welterweight for this opportunity. She has never been stopped, and her losses were to high quality opponents including twice to Christina Hammer of Germany. She’s well trained and aggressive. Both women made the 147 pound limit with ease: Braekhus at 145.8, and Reis at 144.8.
What to expect from the world’s best female boxer
If you haven’t watched Braekhus, prepare to be impressed. She is powerful and accurate, landing hooks on her opponents with ease. Braekhus possesses the same sort of mean streak you see with fighters like Terence Crawford. She sees nothing else in the ring but her opponent. Don’t let the relatively low knockout ratio fool you. If women fought three minutes rounds like the men do instead of two minutes, Braekhus would be able to finish off far more of her foes. It’s something we continue to advocate.
“It’s huge, I’m so excited,” Braekhus said after the weigh-in. “I hope this will open the doors for many more female fights to come.”
Braekhus takes nothing for granted despite her undefeated record, noting her work ethic and the younger competitors aiming for her – competitors she no doubt inspired. “I have to be at my very best, always, and I’m always at my very best. I have all these hungry girls, they’re breathing down my neck.”
It will be a moral victory for Reis to end the fight on her feet. Braekhus want to impress the American audience in her HBO debut, and she will put out all the stops.
Our final word: Lighten up, Francis. It’s Cinco de Mayo, we get to watch boxing on TV, and if you’re really lucky you’ll have good friends and cold cerveza on hand. Don’t pass up this opportunity to enjoy yourself by wasting time thinking about what might have been.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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