Fellow 2004 Olympians and soon-to-be opponents GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN and VANES “THE NIGHTMARE” MARTIROSYAN met with the media — and each other — on Monday at Martirosyan’s gym, the Glendale Fighting Club. It was the first time the fighters addressed the media, and each other, since announcing their Cinco De Mayo world championship rumble. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, boxing’s longest-reigning world champion (since 2010), will be defending his World Middleweight Championship crown for the 20th consecutive and record-tying time, against former two-time world title challenger and current No. 1 contender Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), from Glendale, Calif. They collide on Saturday, May 5, under the stars at StubHub Center. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Promoted by GGG promotions, in association with Don King Productions, and sponsored by Tecate, Chivas Regal, Jordan and Hublot, remaining tickets to the Golovkin vs. Martirosyan world championship event are priced at $750, $500, $300, $200, $100 (sold out) and $50 (sold out), and may be purchased online at https://www.axs.com/events/353331/golovkin-vs-martirosyan-tickets?ref=edp_twpost, by phone at (888) 9AXS-TIX, or by visiting the StubHub Center box office.
Here is what the fighters had to say:
“I am glad to be back in the ring and giving a fight to my fans. I am happy that Cinco De Mayo will still have boxing. It is good for the sport. I want to stay active. I would like to fight four or five times every year. Cinco De Mayo is a big night for a fight and for a Mexican-Style fighter like me. It is very important to me to be fighting again, to be fighting on Cinco De Mayo. I didn’t want to disappoint the fans who wanted a fight on a Mexican holiday. I am grateful to the Mexican fans who support me and who supported me after the fight with Canelo and during the past two months.
“When my fight with Canelo was canceled I never stopped training. I wanted a fight on Cinco De Mayo. I stayed in Big Bear working hard with Abel hoping I would still be able to have a fight.
“Canelo? Right now he is over. Do I want to have the rematch in September? We’ll see. It’s a different deal. The boxing business is crazy. I’ll fight Canelo again. Ask him if he wants to fight me.
“I no longer think about Canelo. I am only focused on this fight. I just want to fight Vanes. I remember him from the 2004 Olympics. I know he is not easy. Vanes is a strong and active fighter in the ring. He is a good fighter . Vanes is a real guy. A real fighter. He is tall and strong. In 2004, I thought Vanes was the best boxer on the U.S. Olympic team.
“I have watched some tapes of Vanes’ fights. His fights with Lara. The minute the fight was signed Abel brought new ideas to the gym workouts. And no, I am not going to tell you those new ideas. The fans at StubHub Center will be watching two Mexican-style fighters from the area.
“I am still comfortable at 160 pounds. There are no big money fights at 168 pounds and besides, I am small at 160.
“I only ask for fights. I want more big fights. Huge fights. Title unification fights. I want to stay champion. It should be a clean sport. That is important to me.
“This fight is very important for boxing. Fans should not have to miss having a fight on Cinco De Mayo. This is my gift to the sport. Thank you to everyone for watching me and supporting me.”
“This fight is the biggest test for me. It will show where I belong in this sport. I was able to take advantage of this opportunity because I never left the gym, even when previously scheduled fights kept falling through. I would take a week off and then return to the gym. It was hard but I never lost faith. A good fighter stays ready, stays in shape. How many times have we heard that about an opponent falling out and a replacement getting that golden ticket to fight for a world title?
“Regarding Canelo, you have to ask, ‘Why did he flunk two drug tests. Why did he withdraw from VADA? I don’t believe him. I don’t buy his excuse about tainted meat. If, God forbid, I had tested positive because of accidentally eating something, I would have myself tested every day to prove I was clean. No one wants to see someone cheat his way into a fight.
“That’s why fans love Triple G. Because he is so good in the ring and because he is clean. He has always been tested. He wants boxing to be a clean sport as do I.
“I have been counted out before and I have shined. This is my time. Fate has reached out to me and I am ready to seize the moment. You can never plan for something like this, but you can be prepared, and that’s why I never left the gym.
“I am excited to show everyone how good I can be. I feel so fresh and strong. Fans and Gennady will be amazed . We may not be Mexican but I guarantee you it’s going to feel like two Mexicans are going to war on Cinco De Mayo.
“I’m not afraid of Gennady. I’m psyched to fight him. This is why I became a fighter. I’m not the only one taking this fight on short notice. Everyone has a soft spot. I’ll find his. I have no fear. We are going to war — Mexican Style. Two trains colliding. We both love the Mexican Style of fighting. We’re both hard headed and heavy handed. To me, it’s not a REAL fight without a lot of Mexican fans. I’m not fighting to survive. I’ll be fighting to win!
“I don’t run like the guy who pretended to eat a bad steak. Let’s see how Gennady reacts to a fighter who doesn’t move away after being hit. Gennady’s chin hasn’t been tested the way I’d like to test it.
“Canelo is an easier fight than Gennady. Gennady has a fan-friendly style. Canelo ran from my mandatory challenge. That says a lot about him. That tells you everything about him.
“When I got the call from Don King, I was laying in bed with the kids. ‘Hey, man, there’s this guy they call Triple G or something like that, you want to fight?” I said, ‘Of course.’ That’s how I found out I got the fight.
“Before I knew I had this fight, I asked my wife who her favorite fighter was, besides me. She told me Gennady Golovkin. So now I have to beat his ass for that (laughing).”