While the main event isn't what we expected, it’s what we have. Still, there are two huge positives. First, both men have passionate fan bases. Second, the StubHub Center has a history of staging fantastic fights. Both factors give this fight a clear chance to live up to the venue’s storied history.
Anatomy of a Draw
Had it not been for Adalaide Byrd's logic-defying 118-110 card for Alvarez and Don Trella's scoring the seventh round for Alvarez — a round in which Canelo was out-thrown 58-38 and out-landed 16-12 overall — Golovkin would have won a split decision that probably should have been unanimous. The evidence? First, Golovkin led 218-169 overall thanks to his 108-55 lead in landed jabs (Alvarez boasted a narrow 114-110 edge in power connects). Second, the round-by-round breakdowns revealed surprisingly wide margins for Golovkin in terms of overall connects (10-1-1) and in jabs (9-1-2). Finally, although Alvarez led 44-32 in power connects in the final three rounds, Golovkin prevailed 63-54 in overall connects in the final nine minutes, including a commanding 31-10 lead in landed jabs. The controversial result -- and the compelling action inside the ring -- called for a rematch, a rematch will not take place (at least for now).
Changing With Age?
During the earlier part of his career, it was Golovkin's fusion of high volume, high accuracy and underrated defensive skills that fueled his success beyond his obvious one-shot power. However, in recent years, GGG has become easier to hit and less industrious with his work rate. The evidence: If one takes his last six fights (Willie Monroe Jr., David Lemieux, Dominic Wade, Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs and Alvarez) and compare them to the five fights he waged before that stretch (Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio, Daniel Geale, Osumanu Adama and Curtis Stevens), several trends Golovkin are apparent:
- GGG's output has gone down dramatically (57.8 per round now, 74.9 per round then).
- His distribution of punches has become much more jab oriented. In fact, in his last six fights he has averaged more jabs per round (29.3) than power shots (28.5) while in the previous five power shots had priority (41.8 per round to 33.1 jabs).
- His lower output has resulted in fewer total connects per round (23.4 now vs. 26.3 then).
- He has become more efficient overall now (40.5%) than he was then (35.1%) and he's landing a higher percentage of power shots now as well (44.2% now, 42.3% then).
- His jab has become a much more formidable weapon (33.1 attempts/8.6 connects per round, 26% accuracy then, 29.3 attempts/10.7 connects per round, 36.5% accuracy), which would explain why he has become much more reliant on it as he has aged.
- Finally, and perhaps crucially, his defensive skills have slipped. In his six previous fights he was hit by 24.6% overall, 12.4% jabs and 34.7% power, all below the middleweight averages of 30.1%, 20.5% and 37.1% respectively. In his last six fights, those numbers have jumped to 31.1% overall, 21.6% jabs and 37.7% power, all slightly worse than the division averages.
Yes, Golovkin has faced a better grade of opponent in recent years -- his last six foes had a combined record of 217-6-2 (.964) -- but it's also clear that the gifts that were so prevalent in past years are less so now. Will that fact show up against Martirosyan or will the effects be delayed a few more months?
In each of his last three fights — a unanimous decision loss to Jermell Charlo, a 10-round majority decision win over Ishe Smith and a 12-round points defeat to WBA super welterweight titlist Erislandy Lara — Martirosyan has been out-landed overall (92-79 vs. Charlo, 155-137 against Smith and 162-94 versus Lara) and he has been on the short end when it comes to power punching accuracy (59.6%-23.4% against Lara, 43.2%-36.3% versus Smith, 39.8%-27.4% against Charlo).
Also, the pace of his fights were dreary as he averaged 35.5 per round against Charlo, 51.8 against a surprisingly energetic Smith (who averaged 60.2 yet lost a decision in his native Las Vegas), and 39.5 against Lara (who averaged 35.3). The last time Martirosyan out-landed an opponent while maintaining a strong pace was in October 2014 against Willie Nelson as he averaged 62.5 punches per round to Nelson's 60.8, led 194-185 overall due to his 80-36 lead in landed jabs, plus, he was more accurate overall (31%-30.4%) and in power punches (42.1%-31.9%). Even so, Nelsons still led 158-105 in landed power shots and was the more accurate jabber (28.7%-14.4%).
Finally, the round-by-round breakdowns had it 5-5 in overall connects, 7-0-3 Nelson in jabs and 7-3 Martirosyan in power connects. These numbers in recent fights only add fuel to the doubts that already surround this contest.
Inside the Numbers
Despite his recent statistical slide, GGG (last 14 fights) still ranks #1 in several offensive CompuBox Categories and near the top in several others:
- 10.4 landed jabs per round (#1 & double middle. avg.)
- 33.5% jabs connect pct. (#1)
- 39.0% connect pct. (#2)
- 25.1 punches landed per round (#4)
- +11.5 plus/minus rating (#8)
- opponents landed 35.5% of their power punches and
- just 14.4% of GGG's landed punches are body shots (CompuBox Avg.: 22.3%)
Martirosyan (last 4 fights, all at 154 pounds) threw and landed below the weighted class average, while opponents landed 41.7% of their power punches, outlanding Vanes 8.8 to 8.6 in that category.
GGG's decline in form and the difficulties of adjusting to a new opponent with a different style and immeasurably less public appeal and money-making capacity add a small measure of intrigue to this contest. Will Martirosyan use the criticism to lift himself to a higher level and defy the nearly two years of inactivity? He will certainly try. But trying won't be enough.
Golovkin will take out his anger against Alvarez on Martirosyan, whose spoiling tactics will fail miserably once Golovkin zeroes in on the target. For the first time in nearly 19 months, Golovkin will score a stoppage, and it will probably come in the middle rounds. Then, most likely, Golovkin will get a chance to vent his spleen against Alvarez, and, as a result of the testing controversy and Golovkin's aggressive rhetoric that has resulted from it, the rematch may end up being an even larger attraction. Such is the logic — and business — of boxing.