Contributor: Nolan Howell
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez pulled out of his rematch with Gennady Golovkin on April 2 after a failed drug test. When all the dust settled, the Cinco de Mayo pay-per-view was cancelled, but Golovkin kept the date and moved from Las Vegas to Carson, California and from pay-per-view to HBO. His opponent, Vanes Martirosyan, stepped in on April 18, less than a month’s notice and on a nearly two-year layoff against someone considered to be one of, if not the best active boxer in the world. Though Martirosyan is an underrated fighter and former light middleweight title challenger who put big scares into Erislandy Lara, he faced near insurmountable odds against GGG.
That all showed during the fight in front of the pro-Golovkin StubHub Center.
Martirosyan actually won the first round on the Undercard Superstar scorecard as Golovkin looked to get range with jabs. Martirosyan landed a right hand that backed GGG up and a jab that followed seemed to surprise Golovkin in the best punches of the round. But, round two was a different story as Golovkin came out swinging. The jab and right hand combination that would pay dividends for GGG set up a right uppercut that nearly put Martirosyan on a knee, but the referee called it a throw. Golovkin was patient and caught Martirosyan reaching on a right hand with a left hook that would set up the end. The jabs set up the right cross that put Matirosyan out on his feet and Golovkin popped piston jabs to set up another right hand. A flurry of left and right hooks put the exclamation point on a falling Martirosyan, who got to his knees on eight of the ten-count, but had no inclination or ability to stand. Gennady Golovkin scored the KO in the second.
After the fight, Max Kellerman told Golovkin that Martirosyan said to him that Golovkin is the hardest puncher he has ever faced. Golovkin said it was all business and a serious fight after he got hit and Golovkin says he wants everyone at middleweight, including a rematch with “Canelo” on Mexican Independence Day.
In the co-main event, Cecilia Braekhus defended the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, and IBO female welterweight titles against Kali Reis. Though Reis was eager to keep going forward, nothing much landed as Braekhus would have a combination waiting for her before she got inside for nearly three-quarters of the fight. A seventh-round flash knockdown by Reis was the only significant moment for the opposition, with a Braekhus jab being countered by a right straight down the pipe from Reis. Another overhand right from Reis at the end of the eighth had Braekhus on Bambi legs with seconds left in the round, but Braekhus stopped opening up in exchanges with Reis inside and went back to inside combinations before dancing out of the pocket in the ninth. Braekhus added her most powerful punches of the fight to that combination in the tenth to rally to safety on the scorecards. Undercard Superstar scored the fight 97-92 Braekhus, while the judges scored it 97-92, 96-93, and 96-93 for Braekhus, though the crowd booed the decision after. Braekhus moved to 33-0 and was prepared to give Reis a rematch after, even after being asked about potential fights with Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields.
-Nolan can be reached at email@example.com or @nolanundercard.