GENNADY GOLOVKIN defends his WBA and WBC middleweight titles against American challenger Vanes Martirosyan at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Here are five key questions going into the main-event
Who is Vanes Martirosyan?
The 31-year-old Armenian is a former world title challenger at light-middleweight. He failed in attempts against Demetrius Andrade and more recently Erislandy Lara. He is a former Olympian having represented the United States at the 2004 Games as a welterweight. He is trained by hall of famer Freddie Roach and co-managed by Shelly Finkel.
But can Martirosyan pull of one of the biggest shocks in boxing history?
A rematch between Saul Alvarez and Golovkin was previously set for a Las Vegas but the fight was cancelled on April 3 when “Canelo” withdrew from the contest following two failed drug tests which the Mexican put down to contaminated meat. Martirosyan was announced as the replacement on April 18, but the IBF title will not be on the line as he is not sanctioned by the governing body. Mexican Jaime Munguia,Ukrainian Sergey Derevyanchenko and former two-time light middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade all campaigned to get the fight but were overlooked.
With Munguia, Andrade and Derevianchenko all available, was this the right call?
Will the change of opponent affect GGG?
Golovkin had an amateur record of 345–5, and with 38 professional fights the Kazakh has competed in 388 bouts, therefore he is in good stead to deal with any style and would have dealt with the opponents changing along the way.
Will GGG be taking the challenge of Martirosyan seriously enough?
Is Golovkin in his prime?
At the age of 36 Golovkin seems younger than he actually is, having not fought out of Europe until he knocked out Poland’s Grzegorz Proksa in round five of their 2012 fight. GGG has only had six years on a global stage. In this time he has become unified middleweight champion and finds himself one WBO belt away from being undisputed champ. But, the undefeated champion has a run of 35 stoppages in 36 fights ended against Daniel Jacobs in March 2017, later followed up with Canelo taking him the distance for the second contest in a row.
Does this signal a decline in the Kazakh’s dominance?
What next for the winner?
Golovkin has no shortage of potential next opponents. Jermall Charlo became mandatory WBC challenger having stopped Hugo Centeno Jr in New York, while Danny Jacobs put his name in the mix for a rematch against the Kazak after beating Maciej Sulęcki and becoming WBA mandatory. After the Canelo pull out the IBF stated they will allow Golovkin to remain champion but insisted he will have to face Derevyanchenko should he be victorious.
With Canelo’s suspension set to expire in September, a rematch between the Mexican and Golovkin could be a huge possibility as promoter Oscar De La Hoya said he expects the two to meet in. Finally, WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders holds the final belt for a complete middleweight unification. The Brit takes on fellow countryman Martin Murray on June 23 in the fourth defence of his title, but the winner of the two bouts could meet for a showdown with the chance to become undisputed champion at stake.
And, if Martirosyan is to cause the upset, he has all those contenders to look forward to.