Toppling a monster like Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is not for the timid.
Enter Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan.
Glendale, California’s Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) steps through the ropes against undefeated Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) on Saturday, May 5, at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles. HBO will show the battle for the WBA, WBC, and IBF middleweight world titles.
It’s business as usual for Martirosyan.
The first time I saw the tall Armenian-American boxer was probably around 2002. It was an amateur tournament called the Blue and Gold in Baldwin Park, Calif. and it was the most prestigious gathering at the time for non-professionals.
For several days this tall kid from Glendale was slicing through the opposition with a ferocious and unapologetic manner. He reminded me of Mexico’s Erik “el Terrible” Morales both facially and style-wise. I took note of him and jotted down his name for future reference.
A year later, when the announcements were made on the US Olympic boxing team, it was mentioned that some kid Martirosyan had upset the favorite and had made the team.
Martirosyan was always upsetting the favorites.
Though he didn’t medal during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he made his mark and was later signed by Top Rank. For years he trained at the Wild Card in Hollywood when it was the main hub for most weight divisions. Watching him spar you could see an inner toughness that not everyone has.
That toughness was shown when he fought Kassim Ouma and Saul Roman who floored him but then tasted defeat. It also was proven when he floored Demetrious Andrade though lost by decision.
While others avoided Andrade, Jermell Charlo and Erislandy Lara, the ever-ready Martirosyan was standing by the phone ready to fight on the first ring. He was ready to fight when Golovkin’s team called too.
“I was dreaming about getting the fight,” said Martirosyan at the Glendale Fight Club. “I was holding my daughter when I got the call.”
Though mostly fighting at the 154-pound super welterweight division, Martirosyan said moving up in weight has always been on his mind.
“Now I can eat more carne asada,” he said adding that the fight takes place on Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday. “Armenians are like Mexicans they don’t quit.”
Fighting on Cinco de Mayo has become a boxing tradition for decades symbolizing one of the biggest fight events of the year. The other is September 16.
“Gennady was insistent on fighting May 5,” said promoter Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions. “Vanes was ready and he was the leading available contender and he is local here in the Los Angeles area.”
And after all, Golovkin’s “Mexican style” way of fighting suits Martirosyan too.
“We’re both not going to be running away,” Martirosyan said. “I’m going to hit him and I’m not afraid to get hit.”
Cinco de Mayo at the StubHub Center.
Doors open at 4 p.m.
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