Boxing’s tradition of having a notable fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend will continue this year, but it won’t feature a Mexican boxer in the main event or be held in Las Vegas.
Undefeated middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will make a title defense May 5 against 11th-hour replacement Vanes Martirosyan for an HBO-televised main event at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, announced the bout on Wednesday.
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts), from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, was left without an opponent for that date after Saul “Canelo” Alvarez withdrew April 3 from a scheduled rematch at T-Mobile Arena.
On Wednesday, Alvarez received a six-month suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission for an anti-doping violation. The Mexican fighter is eligible to return to the ring in August and is expected to pursue a Mexican Independence Weekend showdown with Golovkin in September.
But for now, Golovkin is focused on Martirosyan and got his wish of fighting May 5 despite many obstacles.
“There were so many moving parts in such a short time to try to salvage the date because of the late time frame Canelo actually acknowledged that he wasn’t going to fight May 5,” Loeffler said. “We saved the date, but this really put us behind the eight ball.”
Golovkin, 36, will put his WBA and WBC belts on the line, and if successful, he’ll match Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 straight middleweight title defenses.
The fighter known as “Triple G” also holds the IBF strap, but that sanctioning body didn’t deem Martirosyan as a worthy opponent for Golovkin.
Golovkin could be stripped of the belt for not fighting the IBF’s mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Loeffler plans to file for an exception.
Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), a 2004 U.S. Olympian of Armenian descent, will be moving up from junior middleweight and hasn’t fought in nearly two years. Martirosyan, 31, is coming off a May 2016 defeat to Erislandy Lara at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“Triple G-Canelo is still the biggest fight in boxing, so if there’s a way to make that fight we will do everything we can on our side to make it,” Loeffler said. “If Triple G doesn’t beat Vanes, there is no Canelo fight.
“You gotta give Vanes a lot of credit for taking this fight on this short of notice.”
GGG’s steak commercial
On Tuesday, Golovkin released a commercial with Jordan Brand that made fun of Alvarez’s tainted meat excuse for two positive drug tests.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, was the star of the commercial. The clip begins with Sanchez eating a steak and saying, “Superhuman power requires a special ingredient.” That was followed by Golovkin hitting the punching bag and Sanchez ending the commercial with, “And it’s called hard work.”
“I went through four steaks,” Sanchez said about the commercial that took two hours to film. “Jordan asked me to do that. I think it’s kind of funny. (Alvarez) made a mistake and we’re making him pay for it by telling him he made a mistake.”