Vanes Martirosyan watched Ronda Rousey’s rise to fame, now ready for his turn against Gennady Golovkin
Vanes Martirosyan watched Ronda Rousey, a longtime stablemate at their Glendale gym, rise to fame as the UFC’s first women’s champion, and now the veteran boxer believes it’s his turn with a May 5 fight against Gennady Golovkin at StubHub Center.
Martirosyan predicted Rousey’s rise early in her mixed martial arts career, he recalled Monday during a gathering with the media, when she won a fight after she got a nasty bite on the leg by a pit bull.
“She got 50 stitches in her leg and then she won the next day by armbar … that’s when we knew,” he said of Rousey, who called him via FaceTime during his interviews.
“She’s like a sister to me,” he said.
Edmond Tarverdyan, the trainer who has worked the corner for both fighters, has come to understand his boxer well enough to foresee something special, too.
“I know Vanes like my five fingers, and if Vanes is happy and excited, he’s the most dangerous man,” Tarverdyan said. “He has that now. His personality is perfect for this. To have this great, big fight, to have all this attention on him … he loves that pressure.”
Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 knockouts) turns 32 on May 1. He’s never been a world champion, and he’s in his stiffest test against Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), the three-belt middleweight champion who stands as the longest-reigning active champion and seeks to tie Bernard Hopkins’ record with a 20th consecutive middleweight title fight without a loss.
Golovkin is fighting fellow 2004 Olympian Martirosyan because Mexico’s former two-division world champion Canelo Alvarez submitted two positive tests for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol in February — which his camp blamed on eating contaminated beef in Mexico — then last week received a six-month suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission, officially scrapping a rematch of their lucrative first fight, which ended in a draw.
“I was on my bed reading boxing news every day … I got the call from [promoter] Don King, and he says, ‘Hey, man, there’s this guy they call Triple-G or something like that, you want to fight?’” Martirosyan told reporters. “I said, ‘Of course.’
While Martirosyan has been frustrated in well-contested losses by decision to Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and Demetrius Andrade, as an amateur he showed a knack for rising up to upset future world champions Timothy Bradley Jr., Andre Berto and Austin Trout, and he was unbeaten through 33 pro bouts.
He sees Golovkin, at 36, slipping with back-to-back fights that went the distance following a 23-fight knockout streak.
Being a massive underdog is “motivation, fire. People say mean things, but I look my kids in the eye and say, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to win for you,’ and that’s all the motivation I need.”
Golovkin admitted he’s never been more distracted in a camp.
Just by accepting the HBO-televised fight that will include former four-division champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and women’s unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (32-0, nine KOs) on the card, Golovkin is risking the International Boxing Federation belt he won in 2015. The IBF will decide this week whether to strip Golovkin for not fighting his mandatory opponent. And he has further pressure in looking ahead, trying to defeat Martirosyan impressively to ensure Alvarez won’t have wiggle room to escape a September rematch.
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler indicated he plans to address financial damages his fighter suffered by Alvarez’s positive drug tests in a revised fight contract for the rematch.
“We wouldn’t be talking about doing this promotion under such a short time frame [or] the IBF mandatory — the whole thing — if Canelo hadn’t had the positive drug test,” Loeffler said. “Gennady wants the fight as soon as possible.”
While Golovkin said, “I’m not thinking about Canelo,” Martirosyan torched Alvarez for not immediately enrolling in the World Boxing Council’s mandatory year-round drug-testing program following last week’s suspension.
“I don’t run like the guy who pretended to eat a bad steak,” Martirosyan said. “As fighters, we know what’s going on. We grew up in gym wars, fought our way through everything. There’s days I looked horrible in sparring with the same guy. The thing about boxing is if you get your [rear] kicked, you can change … boxing is a chess match.
“It’s not only about doing something to be stronger, to hurt somebody … you can correct your mistakes. But do it the right way.”
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.