CARSON, Calif. — Unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin had just demolished late replacement opponent Vanes Martirosyan by violent second-round knockout on Saturday night at the StubHub Center and was reveling in his triumph at the post-fight news conference.
“I think he was happy just to be in the ring,” promoter Tom Loeffler said of the uncertainty about whether there would be a fight after Canelo Alvarez, who was supposed to be in the ring for a rematch with GGG on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was suspended for six months for twice testing positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered drug tests in February. “He wants to stay active. He told me he wants to fight two more times this year. Triple G fighting on a regular basis that’s very hungry, motivated — he just turned 26.”
Loeffler then quickly corrected himself. “Just turned 36,” he said.
Golovkin, with a big smile on his face, interrupted: “I feel like 26.”
The assembled press corps broke into laughter, and then Loeffler continued, “He looks like 26, and the way he fought, he looked like he was 26. I think if he continues these types of performances, we’re going to see many more knockouts, many more fights, and I think he’s going to write history every time he steps in the ring.”
Golovkin achieved a significant measure of boxing history in his expected destruction of Martirosyan (36-4-1, 21 KOs), whom he dropped face-first for the count with a ferocious, nine-punch combination at 1 minute, 53 seconds of the second round.
The victory marked Golovkin’s 20th consecutive 160-pound title defense, tying him for the division record with Bernard Hopkins, who held at least one middleweight world title for 10 years and notched No. 20 with a one-sided decision win against Howard Eastman on Feb. 19, 2005.
Golovkin downplayed his march to the record during the lead-up to the aborted Alvarez rematch, as well as when Martirosyan got the late assignment. But with the record now a significant part of his legacy, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) acknowledged that it is indeed a big deal.
“This is huge situation for me. Seriously, this is a record,” Golovkin said. “Maybe in the future my son tells me, ‘Hey, this is huge.’ My brother Max told me so many people sent him messages saying congratulations, your record is huge.”
Golovkin is the longest-reigning active world champion in boxing. He has held at least one version of the middleweight title since late 2010, when he was elevated from an interim titleholder.
“We’re very proud of the fact that he’s accomplished this,” longtime trainer Abel Sanchez said. “It’s been a difficult road, at times some very trying times. But to tie the record with this kind of performance, I think, signifies the greatness we’re all witnessing right now. This reign, these 20 [defenses], have been with no rematches. These 20 have been against completely new opponents every time. And I think that it’s significant to note that.”
During Hopkins’ 20-defense reign, he faced Robert Allen three times and Antwun Echols twice.
“I agree 100 percent,” Loeffler said in reaction to Sanchez’s comments. “Bernard Hopkins is legendary, fighting as long as he did. He had one of the longest careers in the sport of boxing. Tremendous physical specimen, and for GGG to tie his record and what he accomplished in the middleweight division, I think most people thought that record would never be touched.”