Braekhus, Golovkin Chalk Up Wins

By Caryn A. Tate on May 5, 2018
Braekhus, Golovkin Chalk Up Wins
Golovkin needed a replacement foe. That opponent ended up being Vanes Martirosyan.

Tonight, from Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, HBO presented a double-header featuring two of the best male and female boxers in the world…

Tonight, from Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, HBO presented a double-header featuring two of the best male and female boxers in the world. Undisputed welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus (33-0, 9 KOs) defended her titles against former middleweight titlist Kali Reis (13-7-1, 4 KOs), and in the main event unified middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) faced Vanes Martirosyan (36-4-1, 21 KOs).

As I stated earlier in the week, Braekhus is a highly skilled and accomplished champion. This was her first fight in the United States, and HBO took a step in a positive direction by making this bout their very first women’s match to be broadcast on the network.

Prior to the contest, Max Kellerman revealed that Braekhus insisted on both fighters using 10-ounce gloves rather than the standard 8-ounce, which is what Reis understandably wanted to wear. It was somewhat disappointing and downright odd that Braekhus was allowed to use something other than the regulation-sized gloves.

While Reis is a talented fighter and a former world champion, she had an uphill battle coming into this fight with Braekhus. As is often stated, there are levels in boxing, and Braekhus is simply on a different level. The undisputed champion is a highly skilled and polished fighter—she displays very good footwork, solid defense, and has a high ring IQ.

Reis came prepared to perform at her best. In the early rounds, she was more active than she normally is and seemed to understand that she needed to throw more in order to close the gap. But Braekhus’ faster hands and more athletic ability resulted in her out-landing Reis, particularly to the body. Taking all of those body shots and having to deal with Braekhus’ constant movement—not to mention, of course, the fact that Reis had to squeeze down from middleweight to 147—saw the challenger slowing down by the middle rounds.

In the seventh round, Reis landed a clean right hand that Braekhus didn’t see—the champion was busy setting up her own right hand—and Cecilia went down for the first time as a pro. It was a beautiful, short shot that Reis landed, though Braekhus didn’t appear hurt. She jumped up immediately and grinned a little sheepishly.

In the eighth, Reis didn’t press on the gas enough and seemed content to box with Braekhus. But at the very end of the round, Reis landed another solid right hand upstairs that visibly wobbled Cecilia. It seemed that Reis’ natural size advantage caused some serious problems for Braekhus.

The scorecards were fair: one read 97-92 and two were 96-93, all for Braekhus.

“This was such a hard fight. She’s such an amazing and tough fighter,” said Cecilia after the bout, speaking to Max Kellerman. Oddly and unfairly, some of the crowd booed—perhaps because the contest didn’t end in a knockout. The reason was unclear, but highly disrespectful. “It’s very tough to adjust to American gloves, and she’s also heavier than me.”

Strangely, HBO’s Max Kellerman pointedly asked Braekhus about a rematch with Reis, which the champion quickly agreed to. There is absolutely no need for a rematch for this fight—is the appeal supposed to be that because Reis dropped Cecilia for the first time, we should want to see them face one another again? It’s unclear, but the bottom line is there are a slew of great boxers out there for Braekhus to face who would be truly tough and exciting challenges for the welterweight champ. Kellerman mentioned lightweight champion Katie Taylor and super middleweight title holder Claressa Shields, and both of those could be great fights.

But both Taylor and Shields campaign well outside the welterweight limit, and there is one outstanding fighter in the very same weight division as Braekhus who has been waiting her turn for years. Not months—years. Not only is said fighter a welterweight, and not only is she a great fighter—she is the #1 ranked fighter and has been Braekhus’ mandatory for at least a couple of years. That fighter is Layla McCarter. Perhaps Kellerman didn’t mention McCarter because she is promoted by HBO’s sworn enemy, Floyd Mayweather Jr., but it was a disappointing omission.

In the main event, Golovkin defended his unified middleweight world titles against Martirosyan, who last fought two years ago and moved up from junior middleweight for this opportunity. Vanes took the bout on somewhat short notice after Canelo Alvarez, who was slated to have a rematch with Golovkin on this date, tested positive for clenbuterol and was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission until August. While the evidence suggests that Canelo’s positive test came from eating beef tainted with the chemical, the end result was the same: Golovkin needed a replacement foe. That opponent ended up being Martirosyan.

It must be said up front that Vanes has always been an exceptional fighter. He was a 2004 US Olympian and has fought some of the best junior middleweights in the world, and always gives a good accounting of himself, win or lose.

But being inactive for two years on top of moving up in weight proved to be too much for Vanes tonight. In the first round, he used his solid fundamentals to have occasional moments, landing a few jabs on Golovkin. But his reaction time and his reflexes were off from the beginning. He was soft around the middle, which isn’t surprising when a fighter steps in on short notice, but all of these things added up to a disappointing night for Vanes. In that first round, Golovkin seemed to be in cruise control, biding his time.

In the second round, Vanes landed a shot upstairs on Golovkin that lit a fire under the middleweight champion. He landed a clean combination of multiple punches on the smaller fighter, obviously hurting Vanes as he sank to the canvas. Referee Jack Reiss gave Vanes a count, but he wasn’t able to rise and continue.

The replay showed that Golovkin’s very last punch, a right hand, landed just after Vanes’ knee had touched the canvas. But thankfully the referee didn’t punish GGG for what was clearly an accident—besides, the damage had already been done. The final shot isn’t what hurt Vanes.

This match was not a contest. It felt like a cynical showcase for another Golovkin KO.

None of us on the outside of specific business dealings know the real reasons behind certain occurrences—we have no way of knowing why a particular bout isn’t made, for example. So I can’t say for sure why we didn’t see Golovkin against a more suitable opponent tonight (like, say, Sergiy Derevyanchenko; Demetrius Andrade; Daniel Jacobs; or Jermall Charlo). But one major part of the problem is that premium networks like HBO have become more promoter than network. Rather than focusing on broadcasting the best and most fair fights possible, they seem far too concerned with creating “stars.” This is of course obvious anytime one tunes in and hears the rhetoric by some of the commentators during fights, particularly when a match involves one of HBO’s top fighters like Golovkin.

Imagine if HBO’s primary concern wasn’t about building Golovkin or others like him into a “star,” but to put on the best fights in the sport. The boxing landscape, at least on premium cable channels, would be vastly different.

Tonight, Vanes Martirosyan was paid a mere $250,000. Small wonder one of the top middleweights I mentioned above wasn’t able to get the opportunity—I doubt any of them were willing to take such a small payday. Since the purses are dictated by the network, this, again, is HBO contributing to the problem.

The boxing world deserves to see all champions—including Braekhus and Golovkin—challenged more regularly. The sport needs to see more even contests rather than attempts at manufacturing drama.

Check out more of Caryn’s work at and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Lucas McCain 02:16pm, 05/08/2018

    For those interested, see Fightnews for the surprisingly HUGE ratings scored by the “nothing” GGG card.

  2. Koolz 10:06am, 05/08/2018

    better remember that Vanes went the distance with Charlo.

    and now GGG has made it so you can’t clinch him because he will catch you with a sneaky upper cut.

  3. Koolz 11:07am, 05/07/2018

    Stay thirsty my friends.

  4. Balaamsass 07:09am, 05/07/2018

    Fried up my latkes in bacon grease this morning….oh yes I did….washed them babies down with two ice cold Dos Equis Ambers!

  5. Lucas McCain 11:49am, 05/06/2018

    A riskier fight might have been better viewing, and more interesting to write about, but why in the world would HBO risk a big star, in the shrinking universe of HBO boxing, for the sake of “the sport” unless it came with a big payoff? Great fighters and promoters take risks, but it’s not to win the Nat Fleischer award for altruism.  Sam Langford never got Jack Johnson in a title bout, nor did Charley Burley ever get Marcel Cerdan or Ray Robinson.  This was a keep busy fight—a chance to see a big talent and fortunately, no one got seriously hurt

  6. Koolz 11:16am, 05/06/2018

    what is the deal with these commentators from various networks trying to talk GGG down then why they are doing that GGG just ends it!

  7. Koolz 11:12am, 05/06/2018

    Haye vs Bellew

  8. Koolz 11:11am, 05/06/2018

    because you know just in case you missed all the action…All the Action!!!


  9. Balaamsass 08:47am, 05/06/2018

    Memo to GGG: You’ve got a chin so stay the fuk away from “Wlad Style” the next time you get in there with the redhead or Jacobs or a Charlo or two! You don’t have to be reckless like Max K suggests but you need to go for it and get these buggers out of there because it’s fukin’ irritating to hear them talking their stupid shit about how they can beat your ass!

  10. Balaamsass 06:47am, 05/06/2018

    @Red Plains-You write that Vanes is an exceptional fighter then you go on and on about the fight being a “cynical showcase”. Andrade?! You and a very small circle of people on Planet Earth all of whom benefit financially when he fights want to see him in the ring with anyone let alone GGG! He’s a nullifier if ever there was…cut from the same cloth as BHop and your fantasy boyfriend SOG! Still….it pisses me off that a real fighter like Vanes gets concussed that way for such a shitty payday! Roy Jones went into flashback roid rage at the end because GGG didn’t get DQd!

  11. Mark Jones 10:11pm, 05/05/2018

    The biggest fight for Cecilia Braekhus is Holly Holm. Holm can easily make 147 and is extremely popular in the UFC. A cross-over fight with Holm would bring many of those UFC fans to the fight which is just what boxing needs.

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