Golovkin uncut: GGG talks Canelo super-fight, Saunders offer and more
There are many ways to gain attention in the boxing world. Gennady Golovkin is becoming a household name and getting on front pages of newspapers by doing his job well in the ring. He remains a very modest man in life and hardly needs any extra PR push. He fills in the boxing arenas when he fights. There are always queues to meet and greet him when he doesn’t fight. Even on other fighters’ big fight events he is surrounded by the media and manages to get in all the news reports.
We decided to talk to GGG about everyone’s hot topic. It is about the Canelo – Golovkin fight. It is about what helps to make this fight happen or prevents it from happening. It is about why this fight would be the best.
- Gennady, first, I would like to say that your entrance into the ring was quite unexpected...
- I was sitting in the front row. Canelo invited me into the ring, and I agreed thinking that he wanted to say something to my face or maybe to announce something. But there was nothing. Most likely, his team did not expect that I would go up there. They tried to keep Canelo as far as possible from me.
- What is your general impression of the fight?
- The event was interesting. People liked it, and this is important. Many people believed this fight was invariably easy. Khan went up from 147 pounds and fought in the middleweight, so you need to understand the difference. In its own right, the middleweight is considered the most unpredictable weight division where your speed and power should mix well. Khan showed courage in agreeing to fight, but the outcome was logical. The miracle did not happen despite Khan's speed and good job of his corner. Canelo won as expected.
- Your visit is well covered; you were probably the main guest at the event. Did you feel greater attention or was it casual?
- I think this is a marketing ploy, promotion. All the talks have started long before this fight, long before my fight with Wade. If I did not appear in Las Vegas that would have raised many more questions. I hope that we agree to fight and make it happen. In any case, this was a right move for the future fight. Moreover, as far as I know, this has also been done to draw attention to the Canelo - Khan fight because the tickets were selling not as well as they wanted them to be. HBO utilized their resources to promote the fight.
- Do you remember how many times during this evening gave interviews or provided comments?
- Honestly, I think all accredited journalists approached me (GGG smiles at that moment). Let's see what I told them there...
- I guess you told them that Canelo has no choice but to keep his word given in the ring?
- I've heard many times all these words about readiness to enter the ring and fight, but in the end few fighters are willing to take risks; they have other options, on which they are silent. Canelo is the only engine room of «Golden Boy». Talks on the weight limits and money are only talks. Many people realize that they will use every trick in the book to try to delay the fight. But this is a difficult situation for them. Canelo is being positioned as the best Mexican boxer but his fans more than anyone else insist on the fight. All people are interested in this super fight.
- So, is it time?
- Now - yes, it's time. I believe that everything should be done at the proper time. This is why we agreed after his fight with Cotto that more time is needed for bigger promotion of our fight. I made a mandatory defense, and his team decided to make money and found a suitable opponent two weight divisions lower in Khan. And for all these fights happening, there has been much greater attention to our fight. No one will say the fight is not hot enough. If money is the issue, you can always arrange a rematch and collect even more viewers, this is a normal practice in boxing; you can make a trilogy or fight four times like Pacquiao and Marquez. It can be agreed when it comes to the money. We both stand out from other boxers, people will wait for our rematches. Ward-Gatti, Mayweather-Pacquiao, Barrera-Morales, they were all ready.
- As we know, negotiations have already started...
- There should be no misunderstanding about the negotiations between us, it has all been spelled out by WBC rules; all decisions are based on law. Rules must be respected. The same is true when it came to the weight division. You can fight at 155, 156 or 154.5 pounds, you can come up with your own weight, but when it comes to the middleweight world champion belt, then respect boxing and fight in the appropriate weight limit. It is even more interesting that Canelo is a world champion in the middleweight but has not fought any real middleweight. Yes, everyone has their own goals and plans, but we have to show our respect to the sport and boxing. I want to make clear that if somehow and for some reason the fight does not happen, it would not be our fault.
- How do you react to the criticism of you on the level of your opponents?
- These conversations don’t bother me. No one can chastise me for supposedly choosing to fight a weak opposition. Wade became the mandatory challenger for the IBF belt after Johnson got injured. Rosado after our fight stood by my side. Lemieux was a world champion. Many of the opponents were at the peak of their careers when they fought me. I respect all my opponents. I respect the rules of every Organization, and I do not refuse to fight. Kovalev is in the same situation and he doesn’t refuse to fight challengers too. At least I fight with middleweights and do not force opponents from two weight divisions below me to come up.
- What do you think, how ready are opponents who say they are ready to fight you?
- All talk but few people really want to.
- Here, for example, Floyd Mayweather talks about his return. Can I at least in theory assume a fight between you and him? He voiced his conditions, but at least he admitted there is a possibility.
- Theoretically, yes. But now Floyd needs all of these statements more than me because he wants to return into the ring and make 50th fight of his career.
- In all the boxing forums the most discussed topics are about you; questions about GGG make many fighters uncomfortable. How do you rate you being a "major concern" for opponents?
- I do not think they are negative towards me, but for the last five years I have been in the way of many people. I "crushed" plans of many fighters starting from certain Russian boxers, then boxers from Europe - France, England, Germany; Puerto Rico and Mexico. Martinez constantly avoided me, Geale at first dropped the belt, but you know them all. Media and social networks play a major part in this regard. Many people blatantly add fuel to the flame without reason. Many people use my name to remind people about themselves. You say - Lara. He is a boxer who after all his losses wants to make money, who wants to go out on HBO and thus speculates on big names. But there is a number of much more experienced guys who truly deserve a chance to go on another level.
- If for any reason a fight with Canelo does not take place, are you looking at the possibility to fight Jacobs?
- They are silent yet, but we would very much like to make this fight. We are ready. I hope that they are ready too.
- Then another question about Saunders and the possibility of a fight at Wembley?
- It’s more of a trifling talk. They even talk about fighting on the undercard of Fury, that alone shows lack of understanding of the whole situation by their side, this speaks about their level. We believe that at our level of boxing we do not fight on the undercards. I think that if they really wanted to they would come to the United States, the place where absolutely everyone wants to fight. Froch, Calzaghe became known in America, Hatton made all his big fights in Las Vegas. We are not against the fight with Saunders, we do not even object to have it in England, but his side should have clear understanding of boxing.
- Maybe you can then say a few words on Carl Froch?
- I do not know what to say about him. This is a man whose wife makes the decisions for him. That's all.
- Since we are talking about potential opponents, then I have a question about Chavez Jr. He clearly wants to fight you, and at the same time he has notably changed his mind about you...
- Chavez [fight] is always interesting, this is true. Our fight is always a possibility in the future. We met, we talked. I think after that he changed his mind about me. This fight is possible.
We also could not ignore questions about Andre Ward, however, to ensure that the picture was more clear, Gennady preferred us to address questions to those who are directly associated with the negotiations. Golovkin's team manager Oleg Hermann confirmed that the allegations made by Ward and his team on avoiding the fight are groundless. According to the manager, everyone knows how the career of Andre Wards developed and the problems he dealt with. When HBO asked them [team Ward] about readiness to fight, they refused to make it. Offer from «Rocknation» was made when the contract with Lemieux on the unification bout for PPV-fight on HBO was signed. "They offered to make a fight when we signed the contract. Tom answered them within just 15 minutes, he said that at the present time we are preparing for another fight. Soon they announced they change a weight division", - says Oleg Hermann. Gennady himself does not want to speak on this subject, noting that Ward has long "lost his face" by showing his demeanor and by descending to insults and false accusations.
- How can I force this man to fight me if he does not want to fight? I'm just focused on other things, and I don’t feel proving anything to anyone on that matter.
- Let’s talk about Gonzalez / Golovkin pair, which by any measure has proven to be very successful in terms of promotion and for the fans. Are you satisfied with this cooperation?
- Of course, Roman is a good boxer and he has earned his right to fight at that level live on HBO. He doesn’t run and shows entertaining boxing. This is a great gift for all the fans because they are able to see two fighters from the P4P list on one night and can compare our class. I think this is a great gift for the audience.
- Gennady, here is a question about your weight division. How difficult was it to make 164 pounds a month before your fight with Wade? What do you say to those who compares your weight limit with Alvarez’s?
- This is an approach to training that has lasted for the last ten years. And I’m is not heavy, I do not weigh much. If I'm cutting 4 pounds, then he needs to drop 9-10 pounds. I'm not as big as many think. 164 pounds has been my weight one month prior to the fight for the last ten years.
- And if there is an interesting offer, will you move up?
- If there is only a really worthwhile offer, we will consider it. But I do not think that now there are big potential fights in the higher weight divisions. There are names, but there is no one who is willing to fight. We also have to take into consideration fighting on different networks. I am now fully focused on the middleweight. I have a specific goal that I pursue.
- Tell us about your team. Is this the case when continuity and stability is important?
- I have all the same people in my team, true professionals each in his own specialty. Now the team consists of about 20 people I can always rely on. If we talk about the coach, then it's not just I but also experts who recognize him as the best, and I totally agree with that.
We agree. Last year the coach Sanchez has collected a number of awards, such as the "Trainer of the Year", including the award from "Sports Illustrated", as well as from ESPN Boxeo. The most important was, perhaps, the recognition from The Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). Tandem of Golovkin-Sanchez has been repeatedly recognized by experts the best duo in the world of boxing. In addition to Sanchez's high professional trainer qualifications, he has had a vision and a long-term career plan for Gennady as a pro. Sanchez is strict and demanding. Not many professionals endured or endure militaristic training conditions in BigBear with minimum distractions and with strict discipline. Golovkin follows the instructions of the coach without question. The success of the Sanchez and Gennady duo is based on one hundred percent trust. And if we talk about the level of understanding that exists between boxer and trainer, this is a unique experience of cooperation for both. "I believe the respect we both have for each other and the sport will be one of the reasons GGG will be one of the best ever," - says the coach Sanchez. He calls humbleness is the most important and distinctive quality of his fighter. At the same time he is certain that “GGG will create a new way of looking at Superstars, humble, caring and intelligent”. Talking about future opponents, the coach is neat: "GGG has a great team, my job is to prepare him to defeat all opposition the promoter and managers put in front of us." Perhaps the trainer-fighter due in GGG team is worthy of a separate big article, and we'll come back to them later.
- Gennady, I propose to talk a little about the marketing function of the team. For example, your accounts in social networks as part of marketing. Is this teamwork?
- Yes, you noticed right that this is all part of marketing. My management deals with this and the dedicated team runs my pages. This is a common practice. I have already said that I am against private becoming public. Therefore, ultimately I want to be perceived as a sportsman.
- In all fairness for Kazakhstanis you are much more than just a sportsman.
- And I'm proud of it. I want to thank all my fellow countrymen for the great support they have for me. I am pleased that I provide an example, and when they enjoy my success. I want people to believe that everything in life is possible.
- I want to ask about your collaboration with Jordan Brand. It is really a great deal that deserves special attention…
- I am honored to work with this company. «Jordan» selects those sportsmen who they offer cooperation to very carefully. I know that many very well-known sportsmen would like to be a part of their "family", but fame on its own is not that important for the brand. I am very glad that I suit their criteria and the philosophy of this company.
- Tell us about the further plans of GGG Promotions, what are ideas in this direction or now you are solely focused on your career?
- This is an important question. We would like to help young boxers, mostly from the former Soviet Union, to find themselves in professional boxing. For they are not cheated, to help them get a start in life. Besides organizing fights on my undercard, our team can organize them in Europe, including Germany, Monaco, the UK, and we can arrange fights in Asia. To make boxers fight regularly without staying inactive. We are ready to help boxers, I know by looking at myself how important this is. Now it is especially important as there is an Olympic cycle. After the Olympic Games there will be a lot of guys who will quit and get lost. Cheating in this business is more common than many people think. Major promotional companies are not interested in our people.
- So, are you ready to help anyone?
- I’m ready to help fighters who demonstrate good boxing and want to develop in the professional boxing. First of all, this applies to our Olympians. I am always willing to have a dialogue.
- By the way, since we are talking about the Olympians. Less than three months left before the Olympics in Rio. This is the first time our boxing team has won all 10 licenses. Do you think we should expect to win medals as was the tradition in the past?
- Today in Kazakhstan there are one the best if not the best conditions in the world for practicing amateur boxing. With this support from management of Kazakhstan Boxing it would have been a shame not to win these licenses. Yes, the country has the right to expect winning gold medals in boxing. I want to wish good luck to the National team of Kazakhstan. I hope to see our flag and our National anthem heard more than once at these Olympics.
- Let's go back to you, I cannot help but wonder about making your fight in Kazakhstan.
- I have always supported the idea of organizing the fight in our country because, first of all, our people have long deserved such a great show. At the same time, there should be understanding by our governmental officials, leaders in the sports and boxing, and those who can arrange this fight. Next year a large exhibition EXPO will be held in Astana, then why not link the fight in Kazakhstan to it? As an Ambassador of EXPO-2017, I will make every effort to make this fight draw attention of viewers around the world to such a big event. On our part, we are ready to organize an unforgettable night of boxing that will be the first event of that level in the CIS. We can invite stars, boxing legends; we can organize a show the status of which will not be different from the boxing events in the United States. The eyes of the boxing world will be focused on Kazakhstan, and I think this sounds logical. Our country deserves such an event.
- Let's hope that Kazakhstan will see such a show. And in the end I would like to come back to the issue of an encounter with Canelo, a super fight that the absolutely whole boxing world is waiting for. It is understood that negotiations have just started, and the relevant questions should be addressed to your promoter Tom Loeffler and manager Oleg Hermann. But as you see it yourself, what are the chances?
- We are ready to fight. We are waiting for him. Now the whole world, fans and experts want to see this great fight. I am sure that he will be a new page in the history of modern boxing that will revive the old traditions of classic boxing. I do not like talking loud things, but the fight with Alvarez would really be big. Whatever marketing Mayweather and MacGregor are pulling now, a true boxing fan wants our fight more. Canelo now faces only one question - whether he wants this fight or doesn’t, whether they agree or don’t. We are close to having to get one of our major victories.
Zhanar Utesheva (@zhanar_utesheva)
Translated by Adil Amerkhanov (@adil_4_real)