Gennady Golovkin will be fighting on May 5th, but it won’t be in Las Vegas and it won’t be against an actual middleweight.
With the Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) rematch off the table until at least September, unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) finally has his new opponent for May 5th.
It was announced on Wednesday that the Kazakh star will face Armenia’s Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The fight will be broadcast on HBO instead of HBO PPV, and undercard action featuring the return of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs), as well as women’s boxing pound-for-pound standout Cecilia Braekhus (32-0, 9 KOs) is set to air on HBO Latino.
Martirosyan is a career junior middleweight who has never been knocked out, and has unsuccessfully challenged for a major 154-pound title on multiple occasions, losing decisions to Erislandy Lara and Demetrius Andrade, both high-quality opposition. He has not fought since the Lara defeat in 2016, although Vanes attributes the inactivity to opponents backing out of facing him. Two of his notable wins include Ishe Smith and Kassim Ouma, with the latter having also fought (and been knocked out by) Golovkin.
Of course, we cannot go through this article without bringing up the fact that Martirosyan is trained by none other than Edmond Tarverdyan, who is famous in MMA circles for coaching Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne. Tarverdyan is also known for training Vic Darchinyan, a genuinely good ex-champion in the prime of his career, but he’s well past his best.
I won’t sugarcoat this – It’s a really bad fight. Unlike when high-profile UFC events fall apart, you rarely expect replacement opponents in boxing to be just as compelling, but there is practically nothing about this matchup that is redeemable aside from getting to see GGG compete again. Martirosyan is clearly a contender at 154, but he’s been inactive for two years and has never competed at middleweight. A win for Vanes would be an enormous upset given he’s never really beaten elite competition, let alone stepping up a weight class.
The IBF will not sanction this as a title defense, which is one way to avoid stripping Golovkin for not fighting his mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs). It’s an understandably high-risk fight to take on short notice, but it would also be way more interesting from a competitive standpoint. WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) also could’ve been an option, although not for May 5th, as a hand injury has pushed his planned bout vs. Martin Murray to late June.
Golovkin vs. Martirosyan is a glorified stay-busy matchup to preserve the Canelo rematch. Oh well, at least it’s not a pay-per-view, right?