This was supposed to be the weekend Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin settled their controversial split draw in September.
A Cinco de Mayo rematch that both boxers promised wouldn’t require judges to crown the true king of the middleweight division. A drama-free sequel.
It’s never drama free in boxing.
It could have been a busy weekend at T-Mobile Arena with the Golden Knights hosting the Sharks on Friday in Game 5 and boxing fans invading the Strip venue a day later.
The first Alvarez-Golovkin match drew an announced crowd of 22,358 at T-Mobile Arena and generated a live gate of $27 million, the third highest in Nevada boxing history.
There are so many what-could-have-beens, but the reality is T-Mobile Arena will be empty Saturday and for the first time in a decade Las Vegas won’t host a major boxing card on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Who knew a few bad steaks could spoil plans of this magnitude.
Golovkin will face Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday in an HBO-televised main event at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The broadcast starts at 8 p.m. with a women’s bout between Cecilia Braekhus and Kali Reis.
Golovkin, the WBA/WBC/IBF champion, will attempt to tie Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 consecutive successful middleweight title defenses.
The Alvarez-Golovkin rematch was canceled last month, and the Nevada Athletic Commission handed Alvarez a six-month suspension for twice testing positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol in February. Alvarez said it was contaminated meat he ate in Mexico that triggered the positive drug tests.
That’s how Golovkin ended up in a cramped hotel ballroom in Los Angeles for the weigh-in Friday. Golovkin stepped on the scale at 160 pounds, and Martirosyan weighed 159.6.
In September, Golovkin and Alvarez brought in an estimated crowd of 10,000 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for their weigh-in. Another what-could-have-been.
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, salvaged the May 5 date after overcoming many obstacles.
“I kept saying, ‘Tom, Tom, get me a fight on May 5,’” Golovkin said.
Many wondered why Golovkin insisted on fighting Saturday when he has a massive payday waiting for him in September in a rematch with Alvarez, who is eligible to return to the ring in August.
If Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) loses to Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) or gets injured, the rematch with Alvarez probably will be delayed again.
But Golovkin said this week it’s not a guarantee he fights Alvarez next if everything goes well against Martirosyan. He’s not happy with the drama that has come from being involved with Alvarez.
He chased Alvarez for two years, and that led to him fighting only two times in 2016 and 2017. What made Golovkin a big hit with boxing fans was that he fought often, three to four times a year, and knocked out opponents.
After he landed Alvarez and his first big payday, Nevada judge Adelaide Byrd’s controversial 118-110 scorecard for Alvarez stole the headlines and handed Golovkin a draw on his record. Many viewed Golovkin as the winner.
Then the beef story broke.
Golovkin is a minus 4,000 favorite to defeat Martirosyan (plus 1,400), according to the Westgate sports book. This could be a throwback Golovkin bout when he was making opponents hit the canvas early and often.
If he goes 12 rounds as he did against Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs in his past two fights, this could be the first sign of the 36-year-old Golovkin on the decline.