Gennadiy Golovkin fully focused on Kamil Szeremeta, feels strong, powerful, tenacious
Middleweight titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin is happy to talk about his upcoming fight with mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta.
“I treat every fight very seriously,” Golovkin said this week. “At this level, there are no easy fights. When you’re champion you realize that every opponent brings certain challenges. I take training very seriously and I hope the more I train the easier it will be for me during the fight.”
He will talk about a year in which the fight was on and off and on and off, initially due to a minor Golovkin injury and then because of the coronavirus throwing so much of the boxing calendar into turmoil.
He will talk about his desire to stay active following a 14-month layoff that he is very pleased is about to end.
“I do hope to have more fights in next year, but obviously with the pandemic this wasn’t possible [this year],” Golovkin said. “I wasn’t the only one. Many fighters have ended up in this situation where they have only fought once this year. Hopefully, things are getting better and in time we’ll have opportunities to fight more.”
GGG talked about the middleweight he would have loved to fight – former world champion Kelly Pavlik, whose career was coming to an end in 2012, just as Golovkin’s first title reign was in its infancy and he had just come to the United States.
“I wish I could have faced Kelly Pavlik,” GGG said. “Kelly was a boxer we were all looking to fight. That’s the boxer I’d love to have fought.”
Golovkin beamed when he talked about how the fight with Szeremeta will mark his 21st middleweight title defense over two reigns and with a victory he will set the record for most 160-pound defenses.
“This is very important fight because it’s a record defense,” said Golovkin. “It’s very exciting for any athlete to set a new record. Whether it’s the 21st defense or any other record, the fact you’re setting a record is pleasing to me.”
He talked about his desire to fight in his home country of Kazakhstan, where he has only boxed once as a pro, in a 2010 title bout.
“Speaking about possibly fighting in Kazakhstan, a lot will depend on how long this pandemic lasts and when the borders will open,” Golovkin said.
Golovkin addressed the prospect of facing a celebrity opponent in the sort of exhibition match that has become all the rage.
“Of course, it depends on demand for the exhibition fights,” he said. “They’re very attractive from the commercial point of view. I believe that I would be open to an opportunity like that.”
He even got chatty when asked if he had seen better days now that he is 38 and coming off a grueling decision win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko to claim a vacant world title.
“It’s difficult for me to say whether or not I’m at my prime or not but during training,” he said. “When I spar, I feel great and as strong, powerful, tenacious and I have as much stamina as I had five years ago – maybe even better. I haven’t reduced my training.”
But Golovkin does not have any interest — and is unwilling — to talk about his bitter rival, Ring middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, or the prospect of a third fight between them that so many are interested in.
The rivalry has included two tremendous action-packed battles that ended in controversy. There was a split draw in 2017 that most thought Golovkin won and a disputed majority decision loss in 2018 that snuffed out GGG’s first title reign and left him in a tie with legend Bernard Hopkins, who made a division-record 20 consecutive title defenses.
Golovkin is sick and tired of talking about Alvarez, whom he has spoken about endlessly for the past few years. But he’s had it now.
In fact, during the build-up to Golovkin-Szeremeta, which will take place on Friday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, where no fans will be permitted, promoter Matchroom Boxing was clear when it came to GGG’s media availability: No questions about Alvarez or his fight against Ring super middleweight champion Callum Smith (27-0, 19 KOs), which will take place Saturday night (DAZN) at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
“Please focus your questions on Gennadiy’s forthcoming history-making fight,” Matchroom Boxing notified media members. “GGG will not be answering questions on Canelo-Smith. Media that ask GGG questions on Canelo will be muted.”
Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs), 31, of Poland, is as obscure a mandatory challenger as they come; did not face a top opponent en route to that position; and is a massive underdog. So, of course, Alvarez and the ongoing saga of will-they or won’t-they fight again would have been a topic to ask Golovkin about, especially because they would likely have fought for a third time by now had the pandemic not shut down boxing for several months earlier this year.
Golovkin and Szeremeta, who won a tune-up fight on the GGG-Derevyanchenko undercard in his last outing and is aiming to become the first Polish middleweight world titlist, were supposed to fight in February before a minor injury forced Golovkin out of the bout. Then they were supposed to fight in the spring.
Alvarez, meanwhile, was slated to face super middleweight world titlist Billy Joe Saunders on May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The deal was done and the press release ready to be blasted out. But when the NBA shut down its season and the sports world began to follow suit the fight announcement was put on hold and then cancelled. Had Golovkin and Alvarez both had their spring fights and won there was a deal in place for their trilogy bout to have taken place this past September on Mexican Independence Day weekend. But then the virus struck and all bets were off.
When boxing returned over the summer, things were much different. DAZN was scaling back, went through layoffs and was no longer willing to spend freely. Alvarez sued the streaming service and promoter Golden Boy for breach of contract and eventually reached a settlement that made him a free agent — even though he agreed to a one-fight return to DAZN for the Smith fight.
Golovkin also faced a restructuring of his three-year, six-fight, $100 million deal with DAZN, one of the reasons it took so long to get the Szeremeta bout rescheduled, sources told The Ring.
Even though Alvarez and GGG are boxing on back-to-back nights on DAZN there is still nothing remotely close to a guarantee of a third fight should they each win.
Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs), who fights out of Santa Monica, California, didn’t want to get into any of that or the business issues that transpired in recent months other than to say he always believed things would work out and that the fight with Szeremeta would be made official.
“As we approached this fight, the more faith I had that this fight was going to take place,” Golovkin said. “Of course, I would have wanted for this fight to take place in the beginning of the year. I’m really happy that this coming Friday this fight will take place.”
But just because Golovkin won’t discuss Alvarez doesn’t mean Johnathon Banks, who is going into his third fight as GGG’s trainer, isn’t willing to.
“You got a guy that is showing everybody that he can do whatever the hell he wants to do,” Banks said of Alvarez. “He makes happen what he wants to make happen and this trilogy fight hasn’t happened because somebody that’s making things happen must not want it to happen. So why should ‘G’ feel a certain way about it when Canelo is showing he got away from Golden Boy, he got away from DAZN. He got away from everything he got into on the contract. Who does that?
“He does what he wants to do. If this fight was something he wanted then it would be something he would chase, but he’s not chasing it for a reason.”
Banks happens to think that Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), having gone 24 grueling rounds with Golovkin and escaping with a pair of generous decisions, just has no interest in running it back yet again.
“You can quote whatever you want to quote. I’m just stating facts that are obvious,” Banks said. “He’s chasing what he wants. He wanted to get away from Golden Boy, he got it. He wanted to get out of his deal with DAZN, he got it. He wanted them to pay him for one fight, he got it. If he wanted the trilogy fight he would do what he could to make it happen.”
Banks added that while Golovkin, who openly campaigned for the trilogy bout with Alvarez before refusing to even mention him, is still interested in the fight, but he won’t wait forever.
“Everybody always eventually moves on,” Banks said. “Nobody stays in the same place. He has to keep moving forward. If Canelo comes for the fight he’ll be excited. If he doesn’t, you got to keep moving forward.”
That is Golovkin’s view also.
“I have not achieved everything I wanted to achieve,” he said. “I first need to win on Friday and after that I will start to look into other opportunities and options in order to achieve more in my career.”
Just don’t ask him if one of those opportunities or options might be another fight with Canelo.
GGG-Szeremeta will be streamed live by DAZN in the US and the UK.
GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)