Gennady Golovkin knocks out Vanes Martirosyan at StubHub Center
CARSON, Calif. — The fight wasn’t the mega event unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin expected to take part in, but that did not stop him from making boxing history on Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
Golovkin blew away last-minute substitute opponent Vanes Martirosyan with a devastating knockout in the second round to retain his title for a record 20th consecutive time to tie the all-time 160-pound division mark set by legend Bernard Hopkins in 2005.
Golovkin, boxing’s longest-reigning active world champion, was supposed to headline a major HBO PPV event in a rematch with Canelo Alvarez on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but after Alvarez failed two voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered drug tests for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in February, the fight was called off.
With or without Alvarez, GGG was determined to fight on Saturday, and he took a massive pay cut — from a mid-eight-figure payday for the Alvarez sequel to $1 million — as promoter Tom Loeffler scrambled to make it happen.
They settled on Martirosyan, a selection met by tremendous criticism because he was coming off a loss, hadn’t fought in two years and was moving up in weight to face the most fearsome middleweight on the planet.
But Martirosyan was in shape, he has a bit of a fan base in his hometown of nearby Glendale, California, and he fit the budget to the tune of a $225,000 purse.
Since desperate times call for desperate measures, Loeffler was able to quickly make a deal with Martirosyan promoter Don King, with the fight moved to regular HBO and the StubHub Center. But in the end, Martirosyan, who declared GGG the hardest puncher he has ever faced, served as the fodder most expected him to be.
Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs), 35, a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Santa Monica, California, started quickly, firing right hands and jabs down the middle and backing Martirosyan up as the crowd broke into the chant of “Triple G! Triple G!”
Martirosyan had one good moment in the round when a right-left combination backed Golovkin up. But GGG put him away with ease in the second round. He rocked Martirosyan, (36-4-1, 21 KOs), 31,with a right uppercut and then went at him with abandon. He connected with nine-punch flurry that included several clean, powerful punches, including a brutal right hand that started the sequence.
Martirosyan, who had never previously been stopped even in two junior middleweight title fight losses, went down face first and referee Jack Reiss counted him out at 1 minute, 53 seconds.