Gennady Golovkin, Vanes Martirosyan close to finalizing deal for May 5 fight
Gennady Golovkin will fight on May 5 following a mad dash to find an opponent on short notice.
A deal is close to being finalized to pit GGG against Vanes Martirosyan at StubHub Center in Carson, California, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks told THE RING. Golovkin will defend his middleweight titles on HBO, not HBO Pay-Per-View, after his highly anticipated rematch with Canelo Alvarez was canceled.
Tom Loeffler, who promotes the undefeated Kazakh, and Don King, the legendary promoter who works with Martirosyan, have been in contact this week, trying to hammer out a deal with time running out to market the fight.
On Thursday, in Los Angeles, Loeffler held a small, private impromptu press gathering at The Palms Restaurant to basically announce that there would be no announcement – yet. However, Loeffer assured the gathered media that he and GGG Promotions are still targeting May 5 as a fight date. However, Golovkin’s opponent and venue have yet to be determined.
“Nothing is finalized, but there have been a lot of rumors about what will happen on May 5, media members have been calling me non-stop for updates, so I wanted to meet with you, along with Gennady and Abel (Sanchez), to give you an update and let you know that we’re trying our best to make this happen.
“We’ve gone through a lot of names, (Gary) ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan was in the running, and he gave us his final answer (no) earlier this week, so the search continues.”
Golovkin seemed frustrated, as he’s been during much of the Alvarez promotion and clenbuterol scandal. Training and the hope of getting back in the ring as soon as possible is keeping him positive and centered for the time being.
“I’m still in Big Bear, working hard every day,” Golovkin said during the press luncheon. “I feel great. I ask Tom every day, ‘Please, I just want to fight.’ This is a crazy situation in boxing, not just for me but for everyone. It would be terrible if there was no fight on May 5.
“I like this sport. I like fighting. I want to get back to fighting four times a year. If I fight that many times, I can fight my mandatory, I can fight regular fighters, not the big names, but good fighters, and I can fight the big names. I just want to fight.”
Loeffler says three venues are committed to supporting Golovkin fighting on May 5 — StubHub Center, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden — as is U.S. broadcast partner HBO.
“I want to apologize to the fans if the fight does not wind up in Las Vegas, but things have happened that are beyond our control,” Loeffler said.
“It would be patently unfair if he didn’t fight because Canelo was suspended. If the fight happens on May 5, HBO has pledged their full support to televise the show, and it would be the first time Gennady has fought on regular HBO since his defense against Kell Brook.
“(Undisputed female welterweight champ) Cecilia Braekhus and Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez) want to be on the card, and they could be part of the HBO broadcast. Hopefully, we’ll have an announcement soon, and it will be a proper announcement and press conference. We’re under the gun now to save May 5, and we’re working hard to do that.”
For the time being, Martirosyan appears to be the front-runner for Golovkin’s May 5 opponent, although Loeffler said there are other names being considered.
“Vanes, for a number of reasons, makes sense. He’s here in L.A., he’s got a name, and he’s willing to do it,” Loeffler said, but he was quick to reiterate that there’s “no fight done yet.”
King couldn’t be reached for comment. Neither could HBO, which would have to sign off on the fight.
Earlier in the week it appeared fringe middleweight contender Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan would earn the nod, but he removed himself from consideration Tuesday, unhappy to take the bout on short notice for short money.
Golden Boy Promotions handles both O’Sullivan and Alvarez, who tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol in February. The Mexican star withdrew from the fight on April 3 after being temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) and his team originally said he would still fight on Cinco De Mayo in Las Vegas, with the fight moving from T-Mobile Arena to the smaller MGM Grand Garden Arena, but now it appears to be leaving the state altogether.
Complicating matters for Loeffler in his search for an opponent for Golovkin is the IBF title he holds. Sergiy Derevyanchenko is the IBF’s No. 1 contender and his promoter, Lou DiBella, sent a letter to the organization requesting that a fight between the Ukrainian and GGG be ordered immediately.
Golovkin also holds the WBC and WBA titles at 160 pounds, and there’s a rotation system in place to ensure each sanctioning body’s mandatory obligations are fulfilled by the unified titleholder.
The IBF couldn’t be reached for comment, but they could strip Golovkin if he goes ahead with the Martirosyan fight.
Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) is a longtime contender at 154 pounds, and he’s been lobbying for the fight on social media all week. The 31-year-old last competed in May 2016 when he dropped a narrow decision to Erislandy Lara in a title bid, and his other two defeats also were close.
Those came at the hands of Jermell Charlo and Demetrius Andrade, two of the most talented fighters in the sport.
If the fight happens, Martirosyan would face long odds to upend Golovkin as he moves up in weight. The Armenian will have his fair share of supporters at StubHub Center either way. He hails from nearby Glendale, which sports a large Armenian population.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
Doug Fischer contributed to this report.