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Lem’s latest: Trainer ranks Golovkin right behind Robinson, Hopkins

Fighters Network

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LAS VEGAS –– Sugar Ray Robinson, Bernard Hopkins, Gennady Golovkin.

That trio represents the top middleweights of all time, according to Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.

Robinson is considered the greatest boxer of all time, having gone unbeaten for 91 bouts from 1943 to 1951, dominated the welterweight and middleweight divisions and been the man for which the term “pound-for-pound,” was invented in order to compare fighters regardless of weight.

Hopkins, 48, is a former undisputed middleweight champion and RING light heavyweight champion who defeated Tavoris Cloud to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown. Hopkins holds the record for the most consecutive defenses for a 160-pound title with 20. He first set the mark of eldest man to capture a major belt at the age of 46 in May of last year by outpointing Jean Pascal for THE RING/WBC 175-pound belts.

A 31-year-old Olympic silver medalist who was born Kazakhstan, Golovkin (27-0, 24 knockouts) will be after his 15th consecutive stoppage victory when he defends his WBA belt against Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs) at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2 at on HBO.

“Gennady is the best middleweight ever besides Sugar Ray Robinson and maybe Bernard Hopkins,” said Sanchez last week during a conversation with in Las Vegas, where he attended Tim Bradley’s split-decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez at Thomas & Mack Center.

“I would love to have seen the fight with Hopkins in his prime. It’s a different kind of style. [Marvin] Hagler was too small for this guy. We’re going to find out that this guy is too physical for a lot of these middleweights. He’ll be too physical for a lot of the 160-pounders and he’ll be physical for the 168-pounders.”




Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, is thinking big beyond Stevens, targeting RING and WBC 160-pound champion Sergio Martinez, RING super middleweight champ Andre Ward, WBO middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin or former WBC 160-pound titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., among others.

“My job is to look forward, even though Gennady has a job to focus on the Stevens fight. For me, that’s clearly Sergio. Chavez is clearly a top name at 160, 168, 173, whatever weight. That wouldn’t be an issue,” said Loeffler, referring to the weight at which Chavez defeated Bryan Vera by controversial unanimous decision last month.

“After that, it’s depending on what Cotto does, and it’s depending on what Andre Ward does. Those are really the top names right there. Peter Quillin would be a great fight. We have a lot of respect for Quillin. Peter is an undefeated fighter and he fights in New York, and we have a good relationship with him, it’s just a matter of making that fight happen. So that would be at the top of the list as well as far as big fights.”

Golovkin is coming off a third-round stoppage of Matthew Macklin in June.

There has been talk of Martinez facing three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto perhaps as a junior middleweight.

“I think that Sergio fights Cotto, and if he beats Cotto, then I think that would be the most likely one toward the end of the year is to get Sergio into the ring. We’ve gone through a lot of different lengths with the negotiations,” said Loeffler. 

“We did it for the Macklin fight and with the negotiations of the Stevens fight to get them into the ring in order to fight Gennady. So any other type of negotiations that we would have to do would be a similar situation. We’d most likely have to give up certain terms, but we’re willing to do that in order to make those fights happen.”




Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs) will make the second defense of his belt on Oct. 26 against Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado on the undercard of Hopkins’ defefense of his belt opposite Karo Murat at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

A 30-year-old old boxer-puncher, Quillin has scored 11 knockdowns in his past three fights. In his past two performances at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Quillin dropped Hassan N’Dam six times on his way to a unanimous decision for the WBO belt last October, and had four more knockdowns during a seventh-round stoppage of Fernando Guerrero in his first defense of that title in April.

In June of last year, Quillin dropped former titleholder Winky Wright in the fifth round of an eventual unanimous decision victory. After Rosado, Quillin said “beating another world champion is something I really want to do.”

Sanchez wants that “world chapion” to be Golovkin.

“We hope to see Quillin when we get to New York, and instead of just saying that he’s ready to fight all of the

best, just be ready to sign a contract. Talk to whomever it is that he needs to talk to, and I think that that’s just how we have to approach it. He’s been talking and talking, but let’s see if he’ll sign the contract. Let’s see what he says. If he says that it’s got to be a pay per view fight, well, how in the hell can it be a pay per view fight when he’s fighting on underards? How? It can’t be,” said Sanchez.

“I know that he’ll get paid more fighting a Gennady Golovkin than any of the other guys that he’s fighting, so he needs to stop talking and sign a contract. At our post-fight press conference, Tom can have a contract for him if he really wants the same thing tha Gennady wants. Gennady’s willing to do it. He hasn’t turned down anybody. There’s nobody out there at 154 or 160 who can go the full 12 rounds with Gennady. Nobody. At 168 there’s Chavez, because he’s got a chin and he’ll be a big dude when he steps through the ropes, and Ward, because he’s a helluva fighter and he’s very, very smart.”

If not Martinez, Chavez, Ward or Hopkins, Sanchez would like to see Golovkin in against IBF and WBA 168-pound beltholder Carl Froch or even WBA light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev, who is 10-0-1 with 10 knockouts in his past 11 bouts. 

“Hopkins or Froch, because he’s a guy with long arms. Those two could go the full 12 rounds with Gennady,” said Sanchez. “But Kovalev, that’s four rounds, and I tell you that because I’ve had Kovalev in the gym.”

Coming off a first-round stoppage of Saul Roman on Aug. 3 that was preceded by his eight-round unanimous decision over Derrick Findley in April at The Garden, Stevens has vowed to “destroy” Golovkin, whom he flippantly called a “God” among “the peasants in the middleweight division.”

“Going back to Stevens, he had a hard time with Findley and guys that punch back at him. Trust me, Stevens is an easier fight than the Macklin fight. Quillin would last four or five rounds before he gets knocked out, flat on his back,” said Sanchez.

“The only one who could bring it out of us is Chavez at 168, or a Froch at 168, or a Bernard at 175. Those are the kinds of guys that are talented beyond, just like Gennady is. They’re top level. Martinez doesn’t want to fight him. Peter just keeps talking.”

Meanwhile, Sanchez will further assess Quillin based on his effort against Rosado, against whom he said Golovkin competed while he was ill.

“I think that Rosado put up a good fight against us when Gennady was at 60 or 70 percent,” said Sanchez. “If Rosado gives Quillin a good, hard time, what are we going to say about Quillin?”




Although Mike Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) has said that he can win a toe-to-toe battle with hard-hitting junior welterweight rival Ruslan Provodnikov, the WBO titleholder also believes that he has the edge in boxing skills.

Meanwhile Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) is confident that he can force Alvarado into “a street fight” when the clash on Saturday night at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo., a suburb of Denver, near Alvardo’s hometown of Thornton.

“A lot of different fighters have had a plan when coming into the ring with me, but usually in fights with guys like Mike Alvarado and myself, the plan changes after the first punch,” said Provodnikov, during a recent national conference call.

“That is my hope for this fight. Obviously like in any fight, the fighter is going to have to adjust. But like I said before, whoever has the strongest will is going to win this fight. Whoever has the most willpower, whoever is stronger mentally is going to win this fight.”

In his last fight in March, Provodnikov scored a 12th-round knockdown during a unanimous-decision loss to Bradley, who successfully defended the WBO welterweight belt he won by split decision over Manny Pacquiao last June.

“I think that Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado are two different fighters. Bradley is a lot more awkward than Mike is, and comparing their boxing styles, I compare them as two different style fighters,” said Provodnikov.
“I think my fight with Alvarado will be more interesting than the Bradley fight because I think there will be more moments of exchanging in this one, so I don’t see the point in comparing the two fighters.”




When junior middleweight James Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs) enters the ring opposite Glen Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs) at 156 pounds on Dec. 7, he will fighting for the first time since winning by 10th-round disqualification over current IBF beltholder Carlos Molina in March of last year.

Before Molina, Kirkland scored a sixth-round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo in November of 2011 after being dropped in the first round.

In his last fight in June, Angulo scored knockdowns in the fourth and ninth rounds before being stopped in the 10th by Erislandy Lara. Molina, meanwhile, has won three straight since falling to Kirkland, dethroning Ishe Smith by split-decision in his last bout last month.

Kirkland will attempt to show that he still belongs in the top tier of the 154-pound division against Tapia.

“Lara as a person that’s going to try to run and who doesn’t have any tremendous power. He just put on a good show and he was able to make Angulo miss and he was able to make him pay for it. So I say congratulations to Lara, and I still feel like Angulo is a tremendous champion and that he can do a lot of good things in boxing, and make a lot of stuff happen,” said Kirkland.

“To Molina, I also say congratulations. I mean, when you say Carlos Molina’s name, everybody says, ‘Who is that?’ Know what I mean? It was a sloppy fight. Both fighters looked like they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper sack. They really weren’t hitting each other. I mean, who is Ishe Smith?

Kirkland said that he once trained with Smith.

“I used Ishe Smith as a sparring partner for one particular fight and I sent his ass home, discouraged and banged up. Then, he fights Molina, a person who is going to hold, and a person who has no punching power,” said Kirkland.

“I guess that Molina’s fans and his people believe that he put on a good show. But when you look at the fight, Ishe Smith actually wins the fight. Carlos Molina doesn’t actually do anything impressive. He doesn’t do anything to show that he deserves the title. But, they give it to him, so congratulations.”

Of Tapia, Kirkland said, “I’m going to knock his ass out.”

“My goal is not to look at the little fish,” said Kirkland. “I’m going after the big fish.”



Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]