Following a tumultuous month of April which saw “Canelo” Alvarez pull out of a high profile scheduled rematch with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, as well as Conor McGregor raiding an arena and throwing a dolly through a bus window, the world of fight sports looked to get back on track during Cinco de Mayo weekend. With the Alvarez – Golovkin rematch initially slated for May 5, it was no surprise that few MMA promotions were willing to book an event that would have to compete with the boxing superfight. As such, the UFC and Bellator stayed quiet this weekend and let the squared circle of boxing take front and center stage.
Triple G Remains Perfect
Considered by many to be the top pound for pound fighter in boxing today, Gennady Golovkin was left without an opponent for Cinco de Mayo when Canelo Alvarez pulled out of their scheduled rematch due to positive tests for PEDs. Ever hungry to fight, Golovkin wasn’t about to let this speed bump deter him from fighting on May 5.
While many threw their names in for contention, it was Vanes Martirosyan who was granted the unenviable task of squaring off with GGG last Saturday night. Martirosyan did his best to pump a stiff jab in Golovkin’s face, hoping to keep his opponent on the outside. As GGG tends to do, he stalked his opponent for much of the first round, walking right through his foe’s jab.
Once the second round arrived, Golovkin wasted little time in opening up his offense, landing a lethal ten punch combination which left Martirosyan writhing on the mat. Yes, ladies and gentleman, a ten punch combo, complete with a triple jab and devastating hook combinations. While nobody expected Martirosyan to pull off the upset, the victory was impressive nonetheless from the undefeated Kazakh killer Golovkin. The win earned Triple G his 20th consecutive title defense, good enough to tie him with legend Bernard “B-Hop” Hopkins for title defenses in the Middleweight Division.
The rematch with Canelo still appears to be on the docket for Golovkin, although Alvarez will have to serve a six month suspension before he is allowed to compete again. The suspension will be in effect until August 17, 2018, which has led many to believe that the highly anticipated rematch will be booked for some time in September.
Across The Pond
Overseas, another highly anticipated rematch took place as British former champions David Haye and Tony Bellew squared off for the second time after their first bout, which took place in March ’17, ended with Bellew winning via TKO in the 11th round, but only after Haye suffered a ruptured right achilles tendon in Round 6, severely hampering the fighter’s mobility.
More than a year removed from his injury, Haye still appeared apprehensive from the get-go. Although Haye was the more active fighter through two rounds, it was very noticeable that he was putting all of his weight on his lead left foot, while rarely putting any pressure on his back right foot. Haye’s unwillingness to lean on his back foot led to him generating little power in his punches. Bellew remained cool, calm and collected in the face of Haye’s attack.
With just 30 seconds left in the 3rd round, Bellew caught Haye with a stiff counter right, staggering his foe and sending the “Bomber” into attack mode. Bellew would drop Haye twice before the end of the round, with Haye answering the call both times, although it seemed like Haye had re-injured his right achilles.
Bellew showed fantastic composure and patience, picking his shots in round 4 before putting Haye away in the 5th round. Bellew would drop Haye will a lethal counter left hook, before a follow up barrage would elicit the referee to call off the bout. Phenomenal performance from Bellew, who would dedicate the bout to his recently passed away brother-in-law. When asked who he would like to fight next, Bellew would call out the retired Andre Ward, who was considered the best pound for pound boxer in the world only a few years ago. Ward, who has recently been busy filming roles in the upcoming “Creed 2” and new season of The Contender, has said he is “totally in” for a bout with Bellew, but only after he finishes with his acting responsibilities.
On the undercard from the O2 Arena, fans in attendance witnessed British Olympian Heavyweight Joe Joyce pick up his fourth knockout victory in as many fights. Joyce, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, has become one of the top up and coming heavyweights in boxing. Although Joyce is already 32 years old, he represents a fresh new face for the heavyweight division, which has lately been overrun by Brits such as Bellew, Haye, and the unmatched HW kingpin Anthony Joshua. Just four fights into his professional career, Joyce will absolutely be a fighter to keep an eye on going forward.
Who Spiked The Punch?
When Canelo Alvarez pulled out of his fight with Gennady Golovkin, a slew of fighters names were thrown into the mix as potential fill-ins against GGG. One of the names at the top of the list was Spike O’Sullivan. Following a TKO loss to Chris Eubank Jr. back in 2015, Spike had since rattled off 5 straight victories, most recently capturing the WBO Intercontinental MiddleWeight Championship via 3rd round finish against Antoine Douglas in December.
To the shock of many, O’Sullivan turned down the proposed bout with Golovkin, reasoning that he did not have enough time to properly prepare for such a high profile bout. Instead, O’Sullivan would square off against Berlin Abreu on May 4, with a win surely keeping Spike in the conversation for a future bout against Triple G.
The bout was lackluster to say the least, with Abreu hardly throwing any meaningful punches. The third round saw Abreu spit out his mouthpiece, solely to make the referee have to call a stop to the action and re-insert the mouthguard. Needless to say, Abreu’s corner ultimately threw in the towel following the fourth round after a continuous attack from O’Sullivan which saw little in return from Abreu.
With a highly anticipated rematch between Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez likely slated for September, it appears O’Sullivan will either have to wait for a potential super fight against the winner, or take another fight to keep busy. With his profile growing, it’s very possible Spike ends up being matched against one of the MW division’s elite. Whether that be Billy Joe Saunders, David Lemieux, or Daniel Jacobs, O’Sullivan will surely find himself billed as the underdog.
One can’t help but wonder if Spike passed on what could have been his one and only shot to take down the new face of boxing, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
On The Docket
With Summer on the horizon, the world of boxing is ready to kick into full gear. A featured bout between two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares highlights the upcoming weekend. Lomachenko, who owns an incredibly impressive amateur record of 396-1, steps into the ring for just his 12th professional fight. In 11 pro bouts, Lomachenko has already won both the WBO Featherweight and Junior Lightweight championships, with seven titles defenses to boot.
On Saturday, May 12, live from Madison Square Garden, Loma will attempt to capture a third championship, the WBA Lightweight title, and your boy King Sull will be ringside with round by round coverage. Following his destruction of Guillermo Rigondeaux in December, many boxing experts have begun to peg Lomachenko as the next pound for pound king in the boxing world. After this Saturday, expect to hear Loma’s name up there along with the elite.
In The Cage
The UFC is currently in shambles, to say the least. After hosting three consecutive events which featured Lightweight headliners – Khabib vs Iaquinta, Gaethje vs Poirier, and Barboza vs Lee, the company’s featured superstar and Lightweight “champion” Conor McGregor is still a long ways away from returning to the Octagon. Legal issues aside, McGregor has shown little interest in accepting any proposed fights, unless the money entices him. Considering McGregor made $100mil for his sparring match against Floyd Mayweather, there’s no chance in hell the UFC can offer Conor that type of payday. Regardless, the show must go on, which leads us to UFC 224…
UFC 224 is headlined by a Women’s Bantamweight Championship bout between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. Nunes shocked the world when she submitted Meisha Tate in the first round at UFC 200 to become the Women’s BW Champion. She then followed that up with a 48 second annihilation of Ronda Rousey, which earned Nunes “elite” status among MMA pundits. The victory had fans instantly salivating for a Nunes vs Cris Cyborg “superfight”. Unfortunately, that fight was not meant to be. The UFC instead gifted The Ultimate Fighter alum Raquel Pennington with a BW Championship opportunity. This decision angered many UFC fans, who noted that Pennington is an unimpressive 6-4 over her last ten bouts. Expect Nunes to make quick work of her foe, outpointing Pennington on the feet before finishing her on the ground.
Elsewhere on the card, we see Jacare Souza, Vitor Belfort, and Lyoto Machida all in bouts that regardless of the outcome will do nothing to get them any closer or further from a title shot. These fights are literally just there to be there. Sad.
Bellator will make a strong attempt to compete with both Lomachenko and the UFC this Saturday when they host Bellator 199, headlined by a Heavyweight Tournament bout between Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal (a LHW) and Ryan Bader (a LHW). The rest of the card features UFC has been’s like Paul Daley, Jon Fitch, and Cheick Kongo. The lone bright spot on the card comes in the form of up and coming blue chipper Aaron Pico, who has picked up two impressive first round finishes following a shocking 20 second submission loss in his Bellator debut.
Although King Mo and Bader are both career Light Heavyweights, there’s a good chance that the winner of this bout will win the whole tournament, mostly due to their wrestling pedigree. The three remaining semi-finalists are Chael Sonnen, Fedor Emelianenko, and Matt Mitrione, with the winner of Mo vs Bader taking on Mitrione in the next round.
What initially began as an intriguing tournament idea for Bellator has quickly turned into a circus sideshow, featuring several past-their-prime fighters from various weight classes competing in a meaningless tournament. Imagine if Chael Sonnen wins and becomes the Bellator HeavyWeight Champion?
Even with no UFC or Bellator this weekend, the world of fight sports was certainly buzzing. High profile wins for Gennady Golovkin and Tony Bellew will likely lead to bigger fights later this year. An upcoming victory for Vasyl Lomachenko this weekend could easily put him in the picture to take on the cream of the crop of the lightweight division. After a decade of boxing which was dominated by Floyd Mayweather, we may finally be seeing the genesis of the world of boxing, with more than a handful of elite fighters rising through the ranks.
After a disastrous 2017 which saw the UFC earn Cuck of the Year honors, the company has done close to nothing to remedy their litany of problems. Cards are still plagued by injuries to high profile fighters, with no replacements ever ready to fill in. Almost nothing is being done to build up the next crop of high level fighters in any division, as the UFC continues to try and focus on potential “money” fights for Conor McGregor, Tyron Woodley, and Nate Diaz. For the record, Nate Diaz, who used to be highly regarded by the MMA community, has disgraced his own name by demanding $20mil to fight, saying that he deserves McGregor money if the UFC expects him to compete.
The only bout that the UFC has scheduled right now which raises any sort of attention is the scheduled July 7 bout between LHW Champion Daniel Cormier and HW Champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. Until then, the UFC seriously needs to get their shit together.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to check in after every weekend when we Pick Up the Scraps from the worlds of boxing and mixed martial arts.