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Q&A: Trainer Sanchez calls Golovkin ‘a puncher, not a boxer’

Fighters Network


WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (third from left) with his training camp crew at The Summit facility in Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Abel Sanchez spoke with from his training facility in Big Bear Lake, Calif., where he is preparing Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin for the HBO-televised sixth defense of his belt against rising Philadelphia junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado on Jan. 19 at Madison Square Garden.

Golovkin-Rosado will be on the undercard of a main event featuring unbeaten featherweight contender Mikey Garcia and WBO beltholder Orlando Salido. The HBO tripleheader will also include a WBO junior lightweight clash between Puerto Rican titleholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos.

Although Golovkin (24-0, 21 knockouts) had contractually agreed to “come down to 158 to make this fight” Sanchez said a concession has been made at the request of Rosado for the bout to be contested at the 160-pound division limit.

A 2004 Olympic silver medalist, the hammer-fisted Golovkin will be after his 12th straight stoppage victory against Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs), a winner of seven straight fights, five of those by knockout.

Coming off September’s HBO-televised fifth-round knockout of southpaw Grzegorz Proksa, Golovkin is after an equally impressive stoppage of Rosado that could launch him into a megafight with a big-name opponent.

Sanchez has designs on bouts against middleweight titleholders such as RING and WBC champion Sergio Martinez, IBF and WBO counterparts Daniel Geale and Peter Quillin, former beltholders Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Felix Sturm, or Anthony Mundine, or unbeaten ex-titleholder Dmitry Pirog.

Sanchez would eventually like to see Golovkin opposite super middleweights such as Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Lucian Bute or Kelly Pavlik.

Golovkin’s workouts have included sparring sessions with WBO junior middleweight beltholder Zaurbek Baysangurov (28-1, 20 KOs) and cruiserweight prospect Isa Akberbayev.

Baysangurov is a 27-year-old winner of nine straight fights, six of them by stoppage, since falling by fifth-round stoppage to Cornelius Bundrage in December of 2008. Akberbayev is 10-0 with seven knockouts, including five straight, and will fight on the undercard at MSG on Jan. 19.

Most recently, Sanchez has brought in light heavyweight Dhafir Smith, of Upper Darby, Pa., and Philadelphia super middleweight Farah Ennis to work with Golovkin. Why do you believe that Gennady’s last performance resonated so well?

Abel Sanchez: I think that the boxing business lately has lost that Mike Tyson-esque kind of individual that goes out there to kind of search and destroy.

So the public has been having to deal with a lot of decisions, some of them controversial decisions, and a lot of boring fights, lets just say.

So for the public to see him do what he did in the manner in which he did it, where he just came forward, I think that they enjoyed that. Yes, he got hit, but you are going to get hit, because this is boxing. We’re going to get hit.

We just got back, Gennady and I, two years ago in relation to what it is for the public to see as a fighter what he did. He made a splash as a fighter.

So it didn’t surprise me or him, but I was surprised at how much of an impact that it made. We knew that it was going to have an impact, but not as much of an impact as it had. Given Gennady’s amateur background and his boxing ability, was there any compromise made on his part in order to make the fight more exciting? Or did he sell out to any degree in order to pursue the knockout?

AS: Let me say that on Dec. 8, there was a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez that ended in a sixth-round knockout for Marquez.

Now if you look at that fight, look at how many times both guys got hit. So at that level, they’re both successful. Now, Proksa was not a bum. Proksa was a guy who was 28-1, and who had fought a lot of decent fighters.

Also, he was a little awkward left-hander, and left-handers are going to be tough to deal with to begin with. So I think that as time goes on, you’re going to see that we did not sell out on our defense.

We have to have defense, but as a fan, and as a fight fan, I think that what you want to see is somebody that goes out on a search and destroy mission, and you’re going to have to take a couple of shots to do that.

We’re going to find out whether or not he has a chin by doing that, and if he does, then I feel even more sorry for the guys that are going to be in front of him. Is there going to be a point, say if Gennady moves up and faces a Kessler, Froch or Ward, where his amateur background, which included a knockout of Bute, and his boxing ability will become more of a necessity and a factor?

AS: Oh, absolutely. In fact, today, and the last couple of days, that’s all that we’ve been working on is positioning and defense and moving his head and moving inside of punches.

We’re sparring, right now, with Dhafir Smith and Farah Ennis, two 175- and 168-pounders with decent hand speed. They’re from Philly, both of these guys.

I brought them in so that Gennady could get the different look. Not so much the Philly look, but the boxing look, you know, where they have a little different rhythm.

We’ve had some Mexican fighters here before, and there is progression where, with every fight, I’m trying to step up the kind of environment and the kind of learning that we’re doing.

Hopefully, four or five fights down the road, we will have it mastered, and maybe not completely mastered, but better than it is today. We just want to get better at it every day. Do you see improvement in his boxing ability?

AS: Both of these guys, Dhafir Smith and Farah Ennis, they’ve said, “Triple G can box a little bit.” And yes, that’s going to come back because he did that in the amateurs. But the amateurs are three and four rounds.

This is a different game, and it’s the kind of game that, in order to do what we did in September on Jan. 19, Gennady’s going to have to approach the fight as puncher. He’s not a boxer, he’s a puncher.

He’s more of a puncher than he is a boxer, so if we tried to box, it’s not going to fit his style. His style, we’re trying to show to the public, is as a puncher.

alt What can Rosado bring out of Gennady, and how much better can he get?

AS: What I think that the Rosado fight will do for Gennady is to make the public and to make HBO and make the networks more aware of his ability to knock people out.

Once that happens, then we’re going to be able to get those other guys into the ring. So, honestly, you know, I don’t think that Rosado is going to pose that much of a threat for this big middleweight.

But right now, unfortunately, the other guys that are in Gennady’s weight class, they’re all tied up, and they’re all tied up for the next year. Which guys are you referring to?

AS: Chavez is tied up with Martinez, or at least until September toward the end of the year anyway. Chavez is not going to come close to us, even after Martinez.

Geale is tied up with Sturm or Mundine. Pirog has disappeared. So we need to keep Gennady busy and keep him in the minds of the HBOs and the Showtimes.

We need for the executives to understand just what kind of product he is, and we need to keep him winning, and, eventually, we’ll get those opportunities. Do you believe you can force the others to fight Gennady?

AS: It’s not us who are going to force them, you guys are going to force them. Absolutely. Even Quillin, right now, he doesn’t even want to talk about Gennady.

That’s okay, though, because he still has some learning to do. I would rather have Peter Quillin three years from now when Peter Quillin is a complete fighter, so that it makes for the kind of fight that a fight fan wants to see.

So for right now, I would rather see Gennady fight the guys that are going to make for a good fight like a Pacquiao-Marquez, or a Nonito DonaireAbner Mares.

Those kinds of fights. I think that boxing is missing that. I think that there are too many guys that are taking easy fights.

Photo by K2 Promotions

Photo by Will Hart

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]