Armenian professional boxer and former world title challenger, Vanes Martirosyan (36-4, 21KOs), has been extremely vocal on social media regarding his promotional issues with Don King, following inactivity and accusations of contractual breaches. Vanes spoke openly about his issues with infamous personality, King, this evening, revealing some explosive examples of mistreatment, which he discussed during our exclusive phonecall for Boxing Social.

“What’s happening is, everyone knew that signing with Don King was the wrong thing to do. Everybody knew that. I knew that. I knew that from experience with other fighters, it was the wrong thing to do, but I had to do what I had to do. The guy put $300,000 in front of me and I had to sign to feed my family, you know?

“Before that, I fought Lara and after that fight I left Al Haymon. After I left Haymon, I had to get something going. The thing that hurt me the most was when Dan Goosen passed away, he was the best promoter I ever had in my life. God took him too early from me. Everything was going really good under Dan, I was about to go to the next level. My last fight before he passed away was against Willie Nelson and that was one of my best performances. 

“I was with Tom Brown and I wasn’t happy with how things were going so I said some things on Twitter about Al Haymon and Tom Brown, which I didn’t mean to bring Al Haymon into the mix. He always looked out for me and took care of me financially. I wanna make it clear that Al Haymon was the best manager I ever had!”

Despite enduring some tough times of late, Martirosyan is an extremely talented fighter, not yet looking back at his career following retirement. He was looking to fulfil his ambition in a sport which he’d struggled to accept, with its politics and constant back-stabbing from those who were supposed to be close to him.

As we spoke, he told me further information regarding his recent dealings with Don King, including the negotiation tactics which had seen King take control of many fighter’s careers during his time in the sport. He’d been filmed clamouring over fighters, waving his flags and talking incessantly, papering the cracks, as Vanes would claim.

“Long story short, after I got released [from Haymon], the next thing I needed was Don King. I had a meeting set up for me and I flew over to Miami. He sat me down with $300,000 in front of me so, I signed the deal. I signed the deal with Don and he never gave me a fight for one year. When I signed with Dan Goosen, I had a fight about twenty days later. He doesn’t give me a fight for about a year and a couple of months – then he calls me to give me Golovkin on a couple of weeks notice.

“I haven’t been in the ring, but he calls me to give me the ‘monster of boxing’, basically. I take the fight on two weeks notice, Don takes a lot of money from that paycheque and now, it’s another long time and he’s not doing anything for me! By the way, the money that he took from me, I got a 1099 from the IRS, he took money from me and wants me to pay tax on the money he took!

“He has these two ladies working in the office. They are very disrespectful. They’re older ladies and I guess they’ve been working with him for a long time. So, if you call the office, they will never get back to you. Brother, people don’t know this, the reason why I am really upset is because my father has been my best friend and we started boxing together, we went to the Olympics together, but my father has got sick lately and he has bladder cancer.”

The anger in Martirosyan’s voice was fused with a deep sadness. He loved boxing. His relationship with his father had been founded on the sport which now seemed determined to turn its back on them both. After offering deepest sympathy to Vanes, he continued, telling me of previous contests in which he’d taken the road less-travelled, often without a trainer or a plan, other than feeding his beautiful family.

“So, I tell Don, ‘Listen there is an urgent matter, I need a little financial help’ – I haven’t heard from him. I want my father to see me become a world champion before his time is done. I’ve never had a fair share. The Jermell Charlo fight? I took that fight on three weeks notice, with no trainer. I showed up to the gym and I had no trainer. Joe Goosen was my trainer but he had left to train [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr, so I had no trainer for that Charlo fight. One of my amateur trainers was in Hawaii, he said, ‘I’ll be there on fight week!’ That’s all I had. A lot of people thought I won that fight. 

“I lost the Andrade fight, he beat me fair and square. I’ll always admit my losses. I will admit my wins and I admit my losses. Andrade beat me, it was a split decision but he beat me. I’m thirty-two now, I beat Willie Nelson and one month later, he goes and knocks out Tony Harrison who just won a world title. That just shows you, me at my best, guys cannot deal with me and I deserve to get a fair shot!

“In the Golovkin fight, I was touching him in the first round. In the second round he did his thing, that’s fair enough. Could I have got up and continued? Of course, I could have. I made a decision that my mind wasn’t right. To fight this guy? I thought about my wife and my kids, I thought just call it a day and go home. I was only taking that fight to feed my family. I get my paycheque, I see there is $225,000 missing! My paycheque for Golovkin was supposed to be $400,000, but Don King tried to take $300,000 and only give me $100,000 – I said, ‘No, man. That’s not fair!’ He took $225,000 and then he just sent me a 1099 for the money that he took!

“Besides that, he’s just a bad guy. He’s bad to me. I don’t know brother, I’m so angry at him because he’s not doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s just fucking me, left and right and I’m stuck. I went to see him a couple of months ago, I said, ‘Don, I don’t want no money, I just want my father to see me a champion!’

Of course, the following story is one man’s telling of a complex and muddy story, but without reason to doubt Vanes’ authenticity, I could empathise after hearing similar stories from fighters represented by a plethora of money-hungry suits. It didn’t seem far from plausibility, the secrecy and refusal to allow suitable time to consider the offer on the table.

“He puts a piece of paper in front of me to sign. I signed the piece of paper, I hadn’t even read them because he doesn’t want nobody to be with us when we negotiate. He puts me in a room. I cannot have any legal representative with me, it’s just me and all of his crew. I’m the only one that can talk to him and I deal with him directly. The paperwork that I signed, I came home and looked, it says that I owe him $300,000. What happened to the $225,000 that he took?!”

“I had an attorney who wrote a paper to Don, basically saying, ‘You aren’t allowed to take anymore money from his paycheque, you can only take this amount of money per fight’ and then he took an extra $25,000 on top of what he took. I called the California Athletic Commission, I have paperwork from an attorney, I was like, ‘How did you people allow this to happen?’ He still takes it, with those legal papers. People advise me to file bankruptcy and get away from Don King, I don’t wanna take that route. I just want people to be fair to me.”

It wasn’t only Don King that bore the brunt of Martirosyan’s anger, as he continued describing issues with one of the governing bodies. In the midst of a humiliating rankings announcement from the WBA, the Armenian fighter opened up over his dealings with the WBC and fundamental issues with their own rankings and his removal, at light-middleweight.

“The WBC… I was ranked number one with the WBC and I was supposed to fight Sulecki, you remember Sulecki? The Polish guy that fought Danny Jacobs. When I was ranked number one with the WBC, they ordered a fight between me and Sulecki, the winner fights Jermell Charlo for the world title. Sulecki declined and pulled out to fight Danny Jacobs at middleweight. He loses and one month later I get the call to fight Golovkin. I take that fight, right? The WBC allowed me to fight at a weight class that I’ve never fought at before in my life… Sulecki lost to Jacobs? Okay. I lost to Golovkin.”

“If you look at the rankings now, Sulecki is ranked at number six – I’m not even ranked by the WBC! Why is that? We both moved up, we both lost. He gets to keep his ranking, but I lose all of mine. I’m not even in their rankings. I talked to the WBC. Bro, if there is corruption or something… There is one-hundred-percent something wrong!

“If I move up to middleweight and you remove me from the rankings, Sulecki also moved up to fight Danny Jacobs. Why does he get to keep his ranking and I lose mine? It’s all about the money I guess, man. The WBC act as though they care about the fighters health. If you care about my health, why did you approve the Golovkin fight on two weeks notice at a weight class I had never fought? Me, as a fighter, I’d fight Deontay Wilder because it’s how I feed my family, you know? I was hoping they allowed the fight to happen. 

“The WBC always act like they’ve been good to me. I remember I was ranked number one to fight Canelo and they weren’t making that fight happen. They weren’t pushing for that fight to happen. They don’t give a shit about fighters. They only care about the managers or the promoters at the time with the money to make things happen. I told the WBC, ‘I’m gonna file a lawsuit against you guys!” and Mauricio [Sulaiman] said, ‘Since you have this threat towards me now, don’t ever contact me again – contact my lawyer!’ His father Jose was a really good man and I had a lot of respect for him, he was good to me!”

“How can you say you care about fighters? If I was to beat up a woman, I would lose my title, right? Jermell Charlo has domestic violence charges against him, so why doesn’t he put his foot down and take their titles away? Why doesn’t he speak up? It’s always about drug testing!”

As the saga with Don King rumbles on, it appears his dealings with the WBC could be all-but-done. Vanes Martirosyan struck me as an intelligent, genuine man. Of course, he’d been outspoken during his time with Al Haymon, in hindsight something he regrets. However, his alleged treatment at the hands of King and his issues with the WBC are undeserved.

Vanes loves boxing, but once again, boxing doesn’t like to make it easy.

Article by: Craig Scott

Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigscott209