It's fair to say the last few weeks have been both interesting and frustrating for those involved in the career of Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33). The Kazakh great saw a rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being cancelled after Alvarez pulled out, following a failed drugs test, and left Tom Loeffler scrambling around for a replacement, with only a few weeks to go. After several opponents were looked into the one who ended up taking the fight was Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21), who had been out of the ring for almost 2 years and had lost 2 of his previous 3. It was a less than great decision, but meant that Golovkin would stay active, having been out of the ring since last September.
At his best Golovkin was a Middleweight wrecking ball, combining skills, power and toughness. He was an aggressive but calculated pressure fighter who had a desire to prove he was the best and to unify the Middleweight division. In recent bouts however the Kazakh has began to look his age, and whilst still a top fighter he's not looked as much of a destructive force as he once was. Part of that is to do with his competition, which has picked up in quality, but part of it is also to do with his age which is starting to catch up with him.
Golovkin was a former amateur star before turning professional in 2006. He would claim the WBA “interim” title in 2010 and has grown from there, becoming a staple of the US boxing scene since beating Grzegorz Proksa in 2012. Although he does lack in terms of career defining wins he has pretty much cleaned out the division of contenders ever since, beating the likes of Gabriel Rosado, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, David Lemieux and Daniel Jacobs. The one blotch on his record was a very controversial draw that lead many to question what Adalaide Byrd had been watching during the fight. Sadly the draw cost Golovkin a career defining win, and lead to the mess of the rematch, the rematch that would be cancelled due to Canelo's positive drug test.
Again at his very best Golovkin has everything but speed, though used good IQ, timing and footwork to hide that flaw. He would bring the pressure, and break people down. In his last 2 bouts he has been taken the distance, and in his bout before that, against Kell Brook, he looked slow and a little bit clumsy. We need to go back over 2 years for the last really impressive performance from Golovkin, his win over Lemieux, and it's worth questioning what he really has left at the top level. He's still a good fighter, but the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo, Ryota Murata and Sergiy Derevyanchenko all seem to be eyeing up the Kazakh, something that wasn't happening a couple of years ago.
Martirosyan was a solid amateur himself, representing the US at the 2004 Olympics before making his professional debut the following year. Despite his amateur pedigree he was matched softly, and moved very slowly through the professional ranks, despite looking like someone who would have loved to have been tested early on. The kid gloves in terms of his development was because of his age, he was only 18 when he turned professional, but the progress of his career really was frustratingly slow. His first real tests coming in 2008, when he was matched with the likes of Michi Munoz, Angel Hernandez and Michael Medina. Sadly rather than move onwards and upwards from those wins he was kept at that sort of level until 2010, when he took on former world champion Kassim Ouma. Ouma, who would also give Golovkin fits, was very unlucky not to defeat Martirosyan in a bout that could easily have gone his way.
In many ways Martirosyan's struggle with Ouma showed a lot, and perhaps explained why his team had been so protective of him. Despite the struggle he did continue on with his career, winning a WBC eliminator in 2011 before fighting to a technical draw in a final eliminator in 2012. By then Martirosyan had been a professional for 7 years and his career, which had promised a lot, had really failed to deliver. He would finally get a world title fight a year later, losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade. Losses in 2 of his subsequent 5 fights, to Jermell Charlo and a rematch to Lara really act as set backs to Martirosyan's dreams and he's not fought since the loss to Lara in May 2016.
Although a solid boxer, with decent power, decent movement and decent skills Martirosyan hasn't proven those traits at Middleweight, having fought much of his career at Light Middleweight, he has been inactive, as mentioned, and has been down a number of times during his career. Going up against a strong, powerful Middleweight like Golovkin won't bode well for the challenger. Martirosyan might have the speed to be competitive early on, but we can't help but think that Golovkin's power will be too much, and he'll stop the challenger in the middle rounds to retain the WBA “super”, WBO and IBO Middleweight titles.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.