Golovkin puts an early end to the Cinco de Mayo fight
LOS ANGELES — Gennady Golovkin provided the fans who came to see his Cinco de Mayo fight Saturday with an extended introductory stroll around all four sections of StubHub Center.
The unbeaten, three-belt middleweight champion then proceeded to make short work of Glendale’s Vanes Martirosyan, a heavy nine-punch flurry knocking out the challenger just 1 minute 53 seconds into the second round.
By matching Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 consecutive middleweight title fights without a loss, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) let it be known he “absolutely” wants Canelo Alvarez next on Sept. 15.
The rematch with Mexico’s popular former two-division champion, originally scheduled for Saturday, was scrapped last month after it was revealed Alvarez submitted two positive samples for the banned performance-enhancing substance clenbuterol. He was suspended for six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Golovkin, 36, mostly had his way with the replacement fighter through the first round until he was backed up by a left hand from Martirosyan.
“I knew this was a serious fight” then, Golovkin said. “The second round was all business.”
Former light-middleweight Martirosyan didn’t respond well to a hard right hand that rocked him to the ropes, and Golovkin followed with two lefts and two powerful power punches to the head that set up a finishing combination as the challenger crumbled to the mat.
“It was like being hit by a train,” said Martirosyan (36-4-1). “It’s the hardest I’ve ever been hit.”
The announced 7,837 in attendance were thrilled by the return of Golovkin’s knockout power. He reverted to his dominant ways after a streak of 23 consecutive knockouts had been stopped in his past two bouts, a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs and a draw with Alvarez.
“If he’s ready, I’m ready at any time,” Golovkin said of Alvarez. “I’ve been the champion for nine years. I have lots of belts. I want anyone to come and try to take my belts. I don’t care who it is.”
With that, Golovkin strapped on his newly revised, special World Boxing Council Cinco de Mayo-themed belt and told the crowd, “Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!”
Unbeaten unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, appearing in the first women’s fight televised live by HBO, survived getting knocked down by Kali Reis to gain a unanimous-decision victory.
Judges scored it 97-92, 96-93, 96-93 for Norway’s Braekhus (33-0), who doesn’t possess world-class knockout power and was dealing with a converted middleweight.
In the seventh round, after getting out-boxed by the speedier Braekhus, Reis (13-7-1) stunned the champion and thrilled the crowd by dropping her with a hard right hand that landed flush on the jaw.
“That was fun,” Reis said. “We were setting her up to be open for the right hand all night long.”
Reis wobbled Braekhus again in the eighth.
“She’s an amazing, tough fighter and she gave me a very tough, close fight,” Braekhus said. “She’s heavier than me. I could feel it in her punches.
“It was an amazing first women’s fight on HBO, and we should do a rematch, for sure.”
Braekhus spent all week accompanied by retired unbeaten boxer Lucia Rijker, identifying Rijker as her coach, but when it came to fight night, she was cornered by former heavyweight Johnathon Banks.
Braekhus’ brilliance was revealed in her early activity and sharpness in the early two-minute rounds. She took advantage of Reis’ move down from middleweight, exposing the challenger’s slower reaction time to overrule Reis’ occasional clean power punches by remaining busy.
UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg appeared at the venue wearing a “Cyborg vs. Braekhus 2019” T-shirt.
The dominant Cyborg, who defended her belt in bouts in December and March, said she has two fights remaining on her UFC contract, and then will push to fight Braekhus in a boxing match.
“A boxing fight is my dream,” Cyborg said. “It’s a challenge to myself. I’ve already done wrestling, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai … I never did boxing. And I want to do it against the best in the world. I challenge myself to be the best I can.”
Earlier, welterweight Ryan Martin defeated Breidis Prescott by unanimous-decision scores of 79-71, 79-71, 77-73.
Martin (22-0) knocked down Prescott with a sixth-round body punch after earlier hurting him with a low blow.