Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
CARSON, Calif. -- For weeks, the frustration has been building up inside Gennady Golovkin, the sense of injustice, the growing dissatisfaction with a boxing world that he increasingly saw as unfair. A victory against Canelo Alvarez denied, he was sure, by questionable judging. A positive drug test by Alvarez that first placed their proposed May rematch in doubt and then led to it being, at best, postponed. The search for a replacement opponent and then the chorus of criticism that was directed his way for the quality of some of those mooted foes – as if it was his fault that that he was left scrambling to keep the May 5 date that he had promised his fans.
When he walked to the ring at the StubHub Center on Saturday night, the crowd roared in anticipation of his taking out those frustrations on Vanes Martirosyan, the man ultimately chosen to be his foil. And Golovkin delivered, taking three minutes to size up his challenge and then exploding into action and delivering a concussive conclusion that had Martirosyan marveling at the weapons that had just laid waste to him.
If Martirosyan (36-4-1, 21 KOs) initially seemed overawed, bouncing nervously in his corner as Golovkin conducted a lap of honor around the arena before entering the ring, he soon warmed to his task. If he was going to go down, he was going to go down fighting; but the early going suggested he was in for every bit as tough a night as many suspected he would be. Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) was patient, stalking, pumping out his jab, cutting off the ring, closing the gap, standing in front of Martirosyan, looking for the perfect opportunity to strike.
Then, suddenly, Martirosyan decided to fight his way out of trouble before trouble arrived, backing Golovkin off the ropes with a right and a short left hook that actually staggered GGG at the bell. Golovkin nodded to him, returned to his corner and decided that if Martirosyan wanted a fight, then he would have a fight.
“Vanes is a very good fighter,” said Golovkin afterward. “He buzzed me a couple of times. After the first round, I thought, ‘This is serious. This is serious business now.’”
The Kazakh tore out of the corner at the start of the second, cracking Martirosyan with an uppercut that nearly dropped him to his knees. Martirosyan survived, and with his back to the ropes landed a lead right hand that landed flush, but in doing so lit the final fuse for the accumulated ammunition of frustrated rage that smoldered inside his foe.
Golovkin backed Martirosyan to the ropes again and uncorked a right hand that twisted his opponent’s head to one side. A pair of jabs kept the target in place and then the conclusive combination detonated on Martirosyan’s head: a right, a left, another right and then one more hook as Martirosyan slumped to the canvas.
The Armenian was on his knees as referee Jack Reiss began his count and then collapsed on to his front as the count continued. He hauled himself to his feet, crashed back to his knees and then collapsed face-first once more as Reiss counted him out. The time of the stoppage was 1:53 of round 2.
“That was the hardest puncher I have ever faced,” said Martirosyan afterward. “It was like being hit by a train. It wasn’t just one punch. It was all of his punches.”
With Martirosyan swatted aside, attention inevitably turned to what would be next. Canelo again, perhaps, and yes, for all his bitterness toward the Mexican, Golovkin acknowledged that an opportunity to take his irritations out on him had some merits. But there were others, too, new challengers rising and ready to stake their claim.
“Hopefully soon I can have fights with all these guys,” he said, before looking at the world title belts around his waist and over his shoulder. “Come and take the belts from me,” he dared. “I want everybody.”