Abel Sanchez says ‘heartbreaking’ split with Golovkin came down to ‘money’
Abel Sanchez says he knew it was over about three weeks ago, when he and Gennady Golovkin stopped communicating following tense negotiations to restructure their compensation agreement after signing a lucrative broadcast deal with DAZN.
The pair had been together for nine years, ever since Golovkin came up to check out Sanchez’s high elevation camp The Summit in Big Bear, California in 2010, two years before American audiences first bared witness to the Kazakh middleweight’s destructive power against Grzegorz Proksa on HBO.
“Money. That’s what the nature of it is, money,” said Abel Sanchez, who says the proposed arrangement had him receiving just one-fifth of the cut he typically received. The two had been speaking for about a month and a half, and were together at the L.A. press conference to announce the agreement with DAZN. “Everything was fine” at the presser, Sanchez insists, but adds “there was no give” in Golovkin’s position about future paydays.
Sanchez didn’t accompany Golovkin on the press tour to announce his June 8 fight against Steve Rolls, and on Wednesday he came up to the gym to collect his belongings.
“My dignity and pride wouldn’t allow me to do that after nine years of total commitment and taking him to where I’ve taken him,” said Sanchez, who described his former protege as “greedy” and “ungrateful” in a statement to the media. “I don’t think I deserved that so I turned it down.”
Sanchez joins a long list of trainers who split with iconic fighters after years – even decades – together, like Ray Leonard and Angelo Dundee, and Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach (although Pacquiao eventually brought Roach back as an assistant). There are few stories in boxing like Muhammad Ali and Dundee, or Marvin Hagler and the Petronelli brothers.
The relationship has been of mutual benefit to both parties: Golovkin, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, came within a belt of unifying the middleweight championship, and gained universal acclaim as one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best. He’s a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, with many feeling he deserved one or both of the decisions against Canelo Alvarez. Sanchez, who first rose to training fame in the 1990s as the head trainer for the Norris brothers Terry and Orlin, saw a revitalization in his own career, earning Trainer of the Year recognition from the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2015.
“You just never think (a split over money was possible), knowing him for nine years, that he’s had a great upbringing, he’s had a very honorable existence with me for the last nine years, everything has been on a handshake basis, on a truthful basis. To be blindsided like this, it’s heartbreaking,” said Sanchez.
“It’s difficult now to go forward and think that nobody else will do the same thing, unfortunately.”
Golovkin announced the move to the public via social media, saying it was “not an easy decision for me and it is not a reflection on Abel’s professional abilities” before adding that a new trainer would be made known in the future.
“There hasn’t been a change [in Golovkin],” Sanchez adds. “I think there’s been a change in his inner circle and adviser group and they felt this was better for him.”
But Sanchez won’t have much time to sulk over the split. He’s got a gym full of fighters to tend to, even if 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist Joe Joyce switched trainers to Adam Booth in March so he could train in his native United Kingdom.
Sanchez has former IBF/WBA cruiserweight titleholder Murat Gassiev, who recently signed with Matchroom Boxing/DAZN and will compete as a heavyweight. Then there’s unbeaten cruiserweight Arsen Goulamirian (24-0, 16 KOs), undefeated junior middleweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk (13-0, 13 KOs), plus 154-pound contender Michel Soro (33-2-1, 22 KOs) and Guido Vianello (3-0, 3 KOs).
Sanchez still believes that Golovkin, at age 37, has plenty left to give in the ring.
“Absolutely, he’s a hell of a fighter,” said Sanchez. “We did some great things, Hall-of-Fame career, 23 knockouts in a row, 20 defenses.
“He still has in my opinion, if he dedicates himself and trains like he was training here, maybe three or four years, maybe six-to-seven fights with DAZN. He signed a six-fight deal, I think he’s got that at least.”