GGG trainer exclusive: Canelo needs to be a 'big boy'!
Trainer Abel Sanchez speaks to Danny Flexen about Canelo vs GGG 2, as well as giving his thoughts on his charge Murat Gassiev's performance against Oleksandr Usyk...
With his man, Gennady Golovkin (GGG) approaching a keenly awaited rematch on 15 September, Big Bear, California-based trainer Abel Sanchez expects a busier, more aggressive Canelo Alvarez to oppose the unified middleweight champion this time around. Their first fight, in September last year, ended in a contentious draw then the Mexican failed a heavily publicised drug test - for clenbuterol - leading to their return fight being postponed from May this year.
“He fought 51 fights trying to control the distance and knock people out, but he didn’t fight that away against Golovkin,” Sanchez notes. “His forte is to attack using handspeed and combinations; I was expecting them to go to war. I think he may try at the beginning to be a little busier but he may go away from it if he doesn’t have much success. But the expectations of the fans and knowing what he’ll have to face after the fight, he’ll have to attack, although it may be very tactical rather than toe-to-toe.”
While Golovkin is currently in his fourth week of camp for the showdown, the decision for him to maintain the May date despite Canelo’s misdemeanour, demolishing a plucky late substitute, Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds, has proved sensible.
“Gennady doesn’t let himself get out of shape, and there’s still plenty of time,” Sanchez continues. “He’s not doing anything boxing right now, just hard physical work. Taking the Martirosyan fight while Canelo has not fought since their first fight is important for us but not a detriment to Canelo. He’s still been in the gym, once the fight starts it should go back to where they were at from the last fight. But it was important GGG didn’t waste time in the gym training and that he had a fight. Also, it set a record for gate receipts [for boxing at Carson’s StubHub Center] and for merchandising, it did 1.3m [viewers, at peak] or something like that on HBO; fans wanted [to] see him fight.”
While the first match between Golovkin and Alvarez was a qualified commercial success, the animosity between the camps, fuelled by both the disputed verdict and then the drugs test failure, seems to have made the rematch a surefire draw at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and on PPV.
“I think it’s become personal between them and that’s been played up,” Sanchez admits. “There’s a disdain there, I’m not gonna say they hate each other, but they are upset with each other, especially with me, but if that makes for a better fight that’s okay. Canelo made a mistake, he has gotta own up to it. I saw just recently he said [to ESPN] if it wasn’t his team, it was him, so I was glad to see him finally admit to doing something wrong. You have to be a big boy. It’s not only us talking about it but the media, they keep saying things that bother him. He knows he messed up but now, owning up to it, it pissed him off.”
Just before letting Sanchez attend to his busy gym, I asked for a final word on another of his charges, Russian cruiserweight Murat Gassiev, who fell short to a wonderful performance from Oleksandr Usyk this past weekend in the WBSS final.
“I’m extremely proud of him for making the effort throughout the fight,” says Sanchez, and it’s true that Gassiev refused to give in and coast to the final bell and a lopsided loss. “It will be really hard for anyone to beat Usyk if he continues to fight that way; but my guy isn’t even 25 yet. I hope we can continue at that level, we will sit down and see what we’re doing. It’s too hard immediately after the fight, too many emotions.”