By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
Okay, so it isn’t quite the fight we’d hoped for. It isn’t quite GGG-Andrade, Saunders, Murata or Derevyanchenko. It’s probably around the same level as GGG-Spike. Vanes is a much better fighter than Spike, but Spike is both active and a regular 160 fighter. But it is what it is, Golovkin’s team were never going to take too huge a risk at a short notice change, most likely because they want the Canelo rematch in September (which might be tricky now that the IBF have ordered he fight Derevyanchenko after this, which is an excellent fight by the way). This is going to be setup to make GGG look like the guy he looked like when he was blasting away contenders for fun. The Monster of The Middleweight Division. He’s 36 and has slowed down – the way he fights has actually changed intrinsically to reflect that. This fight will acutely demonstrate just HOW far he has really slipped, for the first 6 rounds at least. Before we go into that, let’s discuss Vanes.
Vanes Martirosyan is a good fighter. Not an elite talent, but a tough and capable fighter. He’s only lost to top fighters (in competitive fights), although aside from Willie Nelson and Kasim Ouma he doesn’t have much in the name of recognisable wins, much to his detriment. He holds a technical draw with Lara (owing to an accidental head butt clash) in what was – until the stoppage in the 9th – a real close fight, which is commendable given how tricky Lara can be. This was a fresher Lara than the one that fell to Hurd too. He then lost another close (but clear, in my opinion) fight to Demetrius Andrade, managing to floor the American in the 1st round. He later lost on points to Jermell Charlo (again, a close fight) and then to Lara, which also could have probably gone either way. So Vanes is no mug, at all. He owns pretty solid whiskers and is a good all round fighter. He works the body quite well which will benefit hugely against an older fighter and he is an accurate puncher too. The main issues here – aside from the fact he’s moving up in weight – are his almost 24 month layoff and the ease at which he can be dragged into a brawl. His jab isn’t spectacular. His height and accuracy should make him a difficult fighter to get to but too often he is willing to step inside and trade himself. This can be dangerous. Against a natural 160 fighter, this is very dangerous. Against someone with the natural strength, power and iron chin of Golovkin, well…
But what of Golovkin? He’s lost a step right? Absolutely, but I don’t think it’s significant enough for the Vanes’ of this world (with all due respect) to give him ‘real’ cause for concern. If you go back to the Brook fight, you can see he looks a little slower in terms of hand speed (not that he was either Sugar Ray Leonard). Not massively but noticeably. In the Jacobs and the Canelo fights, there was a lack of his signature body work too. Jacobs was a moving target, so I kind of see why that was harder to implement but Canelo didn’t operate with the same mobility; he wasn’t out of range that often. What Canelo can do, however, is counter exceptionally well. Golovkin – I believe – doesn’t see himself as quick enough to fight in this explosive manner anymore and has adjusted to compensate for that. Hence the reliance on the jab, which is one of the best in boxing. It’s always been his most dominant punch but a little less than it used to. Remember the brutal Macklin KO? That was setup by a couple of softer shots to keep Macklin’s guard high before throwing a left to the body, viciously sending Macklin to Hell. But we don’t see those little shots so much anymore either. Pressure fighters don’t tend to have long careers and unfortunately for Golovkin he’s gotten his two best opponents in his mid-30’s. Now we have all those aforementioned 160 fighters waiting in the wings. How awesome would it be to throw in the Golovkin of 5 years ago to that mix? I would make him favourite against those guys still but he couldn’t get through many of them without taking a loss, no way. And at 36, coming back from a loss is even harder. Especially when it’s a new feeling.
Let’s be honest, I don’t give any real shot for Vanes winning or even lasting the 12 rounds here. It’ll go reasonably late I feel, as Golovkin will want rounds after a bit of a layoff. There’s too much stacked against Vanes in this fight but that doesn’t knock his ability as a boxer, because he’s plenty accomplished. I do think Vanes will come to make a fight of it (for a bit, before retreating) and that will make it a real fun fight in parts. I wish Vanes all the best and applaud his balls in taking the fight on non-PPV (something Spike decided he was too good for) but I don’t see anything other than a late stoppage after a whole lot of hurt for the Armenian.by