By Keith Idec
SANTA MONICA, California – Gennady Golovkin obviously would love to become the first fighter to knock out Vanes Martirosyan.
After knocking out 23 straight opponents, each of Golovkin’s last two fights have gone the distance. Those 12-round battles – a narrow win over Daniel Jacobs and a controversial draw with Canelo Alvarez – came against top opposition.
Martirosyan took their fight on just two weeks’ notice, but the longtime junior middleweight contender has never been knocked out. The 2004 American Olympian has lost only decisions to current or former 154-pound champions Demetrius Andrade, Jermell Charlo and Erislandy Lara, and has displayed a sturdy chin throughout his 13-year professional career.
“Not very important,” Golovkin said through a translator regarding knocking out Martirosyan. “It’s not the most important thing. Of course, I would like to win by knockout. But this is not the important thing. Maybe it will not be a knockout. Nobody knows. What is important [more than] if I win by knockout, is it will be easier for me to fight a good opponent in my next fight.”
The 36-year-old Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) is consistently listed by Internet sports books as a 30-1 favorite over Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) entering their 12-round, 160-pound title fight Saturday night at StubHub Center in Carson, California. The 32-year-old Martirosyan hasn’t fought in nearly two years and has moved up six pounds, from junior middleweight to middleweight, for this fight (HBO; 11 p.m. ET).
Regardless, neither Golovkin nor his trainer, Abel Sanchez, are consumed with winning by knockout.
“It’s never been important to him,” Sanchez said. “It’s never been important to me. Even with some of my younger guys, the more you have lengthy fights, the better fighter you become. Obviously, we don’t want a slugfest. But we want a lengthy fight, where we can develop the skills that are gonna be needed for the future. We would love a knockout, but it’s boxing. I would be happy to be talking to you about how great the punch was that [Golovkin] hit him with, but that guy wants to win, too.”
For Martirosyan, challenging Golovkin, even on such short notice, is a potentially career-changing chance. Sanchez anticipates the Glendale, California, native trying to take their fight to Golovkin early to try to prove he can withstand Golovkin’s power.
If Golovkin is able to stop Martirosyan inside the distance, Sanchez realizes it will be far from easy.
“They’re all difficult,” Sanchez said, “but just the fact that he hasn’t been hurt or dropped or anything like that in his previous fights, with very good fighters – he’s an Olympian, with very good skills. Difficult. Difficult. But we thought [David] Lemieux was gonna be difficult, too, but he ended up making it an easy fight. So we never know until they get in there and the styles mesh. And maybe Vanes comes at him like he says he’s going to, and somebody lands a good shot.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.