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Gennady Golovkin-Vanes Martirosyan official for May 5

Fighters Network

Unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin will face Vanes Martirosyan on May 5 at StubHub Center in Carson, California, it was announced on Wednesday by HBO, which will televise the middleweight bout live in the U.S.

Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) was set to face Canelo Alvarez in a middleweight championship showdown that was to headline a major pay-per-view event in Las Vegas on May 5, but the Mexican star’s positive tests for clenbuterol in February ultimately led to the anticipated rematch being scrapped.

Not wanting his camp to go to waste or remain inactive, Golovkin, who recently turned 36, pushed his promoter Tom Loeffler to salvage the May 5 date, which (after a string of potential opponents, including Jaime Munguia and Gary O’Sullivan, fell out for various reasons) eventually led to Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) stepping in at the last moment.

The veteran junior middleweight’s selection does not come without controversy or ridicule. Martirosyan, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, has not fought since dropping a competitive but unanimous decision loss to Erislandy Lara in May 2016. Martirosyan, who has been on the shelf due to promotional drama and transition, is 3-3 in his last six bouts (although it’s worth noting that his losses were competitive decisions to top fighters – Lara, Jermell Charlo and Demetrius Andrade).

Golovkin will defend his WBC and WBA titles against Martirosyan, but the IBF has announced that it will not sanction the May 5 bout and has also issued a warning to Loeffler and Team Golovkin that he could be stripped of their title if he does not defend it against their mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko in his next bout.

This puts Loeffler and Golovkin in a tough position, if the Nevada Athletic Commission opts to reduce Alvarez’s expected suspension from one year to six months at today’s hearing in Las Vegas. Should that happen, Loeffler and Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Alvarez, would likely try to reschedule the Canelo-GGG rematch for September. The IBF would likely strip Golovkin if he went for the big money rematch instead of Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs).

However, for the time being, The Big Drama Show is on and back in a familiar venue. In October 2014, Golovkin — in his California debut — knocked out Marco Antonio Rubio in two rounds in front of crowd of more than 9,000 fans (the record for outdoor arena). Golovkin is even more popular now and is expected to fill StubHub with his diehard fans despite the very short promotional lead-in time.