Abel Sanchez and Murat Gassiev go down the mountain

Photo credit: Stacey Verbeek

When one thinks of Abel Sanchez, the first thing that likely comes to mind is Gennady Golovkin and then, Sanchez’s gym, the Summit, in Big Bear, California. The two have become inexorably linked with one another, as Golovkin embarked on his campaign to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world under the trainer’s guidance.


But as the final details are being ironed out for Golovkin’s rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Sanchez minded to other business, to close out 2017, as he awaited his best-known client’s arrival.


And during the last couple of weeks of last year, Sanchez made his way to the gym made famous by the duo of Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao, the Wild Card Boxing Club, in Hollywood, where he was accompanied by IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev.


“I want to get Murat some rounds in before I get the guys in at the beginning of the year, before sparring for camp. Freddie always has three or four guys here that we can use,” Sanchez said last week at the lower portion of the gym, where WBO super middleweight beltholder Gilberto Ramirez and lightweight contender Ray Beltran were also working.


Gassiev, 25-0 (18), is slated to face WBA champion Yunier Dorticos, on February 3, in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.


The drive up and down the mountain from Big Bear to Hollywood/Los Angeles is an arduous one.


“Absolutely, it’s two-and-a-half hours,” stated Sanchez, who doesn’t actually mind getting into the warmer climate for a few hours. “But y’ know what? We do what we have to do to make sure that we give our guys the necessary rounds and the necessary looks that we need to have to get them better.”


Sanchez actually suffered a heart attack years ago, while making the trek. “2001,” he recalled, laughing. “I was actually building the gym. It was still in the concrete stage.”


The original plan for Sanchez was to rent out his facility to boxers, who needed a tranquil and private atmosphere, in which to prepare for battle. The trainer, who had already had a storied career at that juncture, having worked with Terry and Orlin Norris and Miguel Angel Gonzalez, among others, was on the verge of winding it down when Golovkin unexpectedly knocked on his doors several years ago. Much to his surprise, Golovkin actually returned to Big Bear to work with Sanchez months later.


Sanchez’s phone now rings consistently with boxers and their representatives inquiring about his services or at least wanting to give the Summit a test run. But even with his current stature, Sanchez is more than willing to make the sacrifice in time and effort for Gassiev. ”I think a lot of times, when we get successful, have a successful fighter or a successful camp, we get complacent. A lot of us do,” he admitted. “I’ve always tried to stay as grounded as possible and make sure that I spend as much time with my small guys, as I do with my big guys.


“And if that’s the case, they’re going to get better and doing this drive is a part of it.”


Sanchez believes the 24-year-old hammer-fisted Gassiev can be his next great charge. He has God-given power that cannot be taught. Rounding out the rest of his skill set is Sanchez’s job.


When asked how “Iron” is looking, heading into February 3, Sanchez states, “Very good, he’s very motivated. He knows he’s in a tough fight. He knows he has a difficult guy in front of us but he also knows it’s a fight that will make the fight a viable division. I think, in the past, everybody has looked at it as a weigh station for the light heavyweights and heavyweights.


“But the whole group of cruiserweights is an exceptional group of athletes and we’re going to have a tough fight on our hands and (WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr) Usyk has a tough fight on his hands (versus WBC counterpart Mairis Breidis) and the finals is going to be a tough fight.”





Young lightweight contender Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin is at the Summit and completed his first week of camp. Look for him to return in early March…This pissing contest between UFC President Dana White and Showtime is rather bizarre. It’s the first time I can recall that a network has been accused of actually under-reporting pay-per-view numbers…Hearing that WBO 122-pound titlist Jessie Magdaleno could be on the March 10 show, at the Home Depot Center, in Carson, California…beIN Sports will televise the Cesar Juarez-Isaac Dogboe from Ghana tonight…So are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady really on the rocks?…Is Luke Walton really the right coach for the Lakers?…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.




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