Retaining titles will put Gennady Golovkin on par with this legend

It has been lost in the noise and the sheer effort to fight on Cinco de Mayo, but Gennady “Triple-G” Golovkin will be trying to tie a boxing milestone Saturday night when he puts up his middleweight titles against challenger Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) is looking to tie the record of 20 successful middleweight title defenses owned by Philadelphia legend Bernard Hopkins. HBO will televise beginning at 11 p.m. ET and open with Cecilia Braekhus facing Kali Reis in a historic women’s title fight for the network.

Golovkin was originally scheduled to battle Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a Cinco de Mayo rematch in Las Vegas. But Alvarez tested positive for a banned substance in February and was suspended for six months. After losing the venue in Las Vegas, and watching at least two potential opponents fall through, Golovkin and Martirosyan agreed to meet on short notice.

Golovkin became a middleweight champion in 2010 by claiming the WBA title. He has since added the IBF, IBO and WBC belts, leaving a path of destruction toward Hopkins’ record.

“It will mean a lot,” Golovkin said about the idea of winning his 20th straight title defense. “Compared to Bernard Hopkins, my record is much bigger.”

Golovkin’s trainer Able Sanchez explained: “[Golovkin] hasn’t had any rematches in there,” he said. “Everybody he fought has been a new opponent. The great Bernard Hopkins fought twice against [Antwun] Echols and three times against Robert Allen. We are fighting new guys every time.”

Tying the record will be part of Golovkin’s legacy, but the more immediate concern is whether the Alvarez suspension and subsequent cancellation of their fight will have a negative impact on Golovkin’s performance against Martirosyan. Golovkin, who continued to train when he didn’t have an opponent, expects to be ready for Martirosyan.

“He’s a good fighter,” Golovkin said. “He has a very strong chin and he is a little taller and has a longer reach than me. He has a lot of good experience and has fought a lot of good boxers. I know my style and it matches up good with his, but my style is much more interesting.”

Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) is ranked No. 1 by the WBC, but hasn’t fought since losing by decision to Erislandy Lara in May 2016. He is 3-3 over his past six bouts, but views this as a chance to return to an elite level.

“We can’t wait,” he said. “This is what we dream about. I will get to show the world where I belong in this sport. I finally get a guy that wants to fight and come forward. Other fights I have had with fighters running away and not wanting to engage. It’s a perfect night for Cinco de Mayo because it is going to be two guys — Mexican style fighters — going head to head. It will be a perfect show for the boxing fans.”

The Braekhus fight is noteworthy in that it will be the first time a live women’s boxing match will be shown on HBO. Braekhus (32-0, 9 KOs) of Colombia and fighting out of Norway is looking to extend he nine-year world female welterweight champion reign against Reis (13-6-1-, 4 KOs) from Providence, R.I.

“This is a huge opportunity not only for Cecilia but also for women’s boxing,” promoter Tom Loeffler said. “She sells out 10,000 seat arenas in Norway and does big television ratings, which is big part of the pay-per-view international telecast. She’s the only undisputed champion in the sport of boxing, and she’s the only boxer that has one more belt than Triple-G has.”

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