Photos: Ed Mulholland
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- “This has been a challenging promotion,” exhaled promoter Tom Loeffler at the start of Wednesday’s final press conference before his fighter, Gennady Golovkin, takes on Vanes Martirosyan at the StubHub Center on Saturday night (HBO World Championship Boxing, 11 PM ET/PT). Indeed: Little more than a month ago, Golovkin was slated to fight a different opponent (Canelo Alvarez) at a different venue (T-Mobile Arena) in a different city and state (Las Vegas, Nevada). It has taken plenty of jockeying, lobbying, negotiating and cajoling to ensure that Golovkin, who was determined not to waste a training camp and to give his fans a fight as they had been promised, had a willing and able opponent in the opposite corner May 5.
Martirosyan was lying in bed when he received a call from Don King to inform him he was in the running to face Golovkin; his veteran promoter was presumably pithier in his delivery of the news than he was in introducing his fighter on Wednesday. After fully 20 minutes of discourse on, variously, Donald Trump, Korean reunification, nuclear war and Satan, King brought Martirosyan to the podium – and, for all that he is a heavy underdog, Martirosyan at least is talking a good fight. The man he is facing is known as Kazakh Thunder, but Martirosyan has a nickname – "The Nightmare" – all of his own: one which, he underlined, he did not select for himself, but which was given to him. “Let’s go Saturday,” he said. “It’s our time.”
(King, optimistically, after paying respects to Golovkin’s ability, noted that he had already shown the world he could be “a champion among winners,: on Saturday, he proposed, “Show us you can be a champion of the losers.”)
Golovkin, in turn, did his part to paint the Armenian as a solid opponent. It had undeniably been a difficult few weeks for him and his team, but now he had a fight and a foe on which to focus.
“Thank you to everyone who supports us, who supports boxing,” he said. “Now, on Saturday, we have a big fight.”