Abel Sanchez on the spot?
Trainer Abel Sanchez is one of the most blunt and outspoken figures in all of boxing. In many ways he is a reporter’s best friend, given that he’s not shy about expressing his opinions or saying bold things. And as his best-known charge WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin faces Saul Canelo” Alvarez in their anticipated rematch this Saturday in Las Vegas, he hasn’t dialed it back.
While Golovkin has been a bit understated in most of his interviews in the past, Sanchez has never been one to hold his tongue or be overly diplomatic.
And in the lead-up to this fight, Sanchez has been the target of some of the barbs directed their way from Canelo and his trainers. Yeah, it’s clear he has ruffled some feathers. Whether stating that the Mexican star ran from Golovkin last September to his accusations of them “stacking” their hand wraps, he hasn’t been afraid to throw any barbs toward Alvarez and his positive drug test that canceled their May 5 appointment.
So the question: Is Sanchez also on the spot this weekend as Golovkin steps into the ring with Alvarez?
“No,” he answered a couple of weeks ago, during the open workout held for both boxers at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. “There’s been one opinion from me and the opinion is that (Canelo) ran in the first fight. I’d like to hear somebody tell me that I’m lying. I’d like to hear somebody tell me that what I’ve said is not true. Everything that I say and everything that I’ve said is the truth.
“If’ it’s not, I’d like for somebody to prove it to me. Did he not test positive? Did he not cancel the fight? Did he not cause a lot of people to not come to Vegas on vacation? Did he not also wait until three weeks before the fight to cancel his date with the commission to try to prohibit us from fighting on that date? So he did all those things.”
Sanchez makes it clear, “None of the things that I’m saying is untrue. And if they are, I’d like somebody to prove that to me.”
All the talk won’t mean much on Saturday night, as both men step into the ring to settle this grudge match. Last year they fought to a contentious draw in the same venue in which they will be fighting this weekend. So what changes from September 16, 2017 to September 15, 2018?
“What changes is that we’re a year older. We have a lot of animosity in camps because of some positive (drug) tests back in March. But I think we have them wound up so tight, that I think we’re going to see the fight that we expected the first time,” said Sanchez, who has certainly said a few things hoping to goad Alvarez into more of a street brawl.
One concern some observers have is that Golovkin is now 36 (compared to Alvarez, who is 28). When you ask Sanchez if he sees his man taking any backward steps physically, he states, “The day I see somebody control him and somebody dominate him, somebody out-punch him, then I will tend to agree with those (people) and re-evaluate my thinking of it. But to this date, he’s got 20 (middleweight) defenses, making his 21st; he’s got the highest knockout ratio and nobody has been able to dominate him. So until that happens, I’ll re-evaluate it.”
As for his thoughts on the first encounter between the two, Sanchez – as expected, gives a backhanded compliment, telling UCNLive.com, “Canelo fought the perfect fight – fought the perfect fight not to get knocked out. Unfortunately that’s not the fight he promised the fans and unfortunately that’s not the fight the fans paid for, when they paid for the pay-per-view. They expected a fight that he had fought 40-some fights before.
”When he fought (Alfredo) Angulo, when he fought Liam Smith, when he fought (Amir) Khan, he fought (Erislandy) Lara being the aggressor, trying to knock somebody out, trying to win instead of just survive for 12 rounds. I hope this year, with the pressure that’s put on him by the fans – and by his team, also – I think he recognizes the fact that he needs to do better.”
Sanchez says he doesn’t believe that Alvarez, contrary to his boasts, will actually try and stand toe-to-toe with “GGG” and he says getting his man out of the gate quicker this time around is a priority. They now have 36 minutes inside the ring together and this dynamic, according to Sanchez, “favors both guys. Both guys know what the other guy has but I think that, in retrospect, we know that Golovkin started slow in the first one. We don’t want to do that this time. Hopefully Canelo is starting the same way he finished the last one, so, that way, we’re going to be in the middle of the ring throwing punches at each other and seeing what somebody’s got.”
While Golovkin’s jab was the most consistent factor of the first match-up, Alvarez has to be given credit for also making him miss numerous times with his power punches. The slickness of the Mexican star was a factor last September and it may have been a bit of surprise to the usually accurate Golovkin.
However Sanchez states, “I’m not going to say so much the slickness; we knew he was slick. It was the movement more than anything. I don’t think anybody anticipated it, much less us. I think the fans didn’t see that coming; maybe his coaches didn’t see that coming because I don’t think that’s the way he trained and, if you look back at video of his sparring for the first fight, I don’t think that’s the way he sparred.
“But that’s the fight that he fought, after he got touched one time, in order to survive.”
One thing was clear on this Sunday afternoon, as Golovkin met the media. He was very loose and relaxed. He was seemingly at ease with how everything has turned out since the Cinco De Mayo rematch was canceled, which lead to a tumultous stretch that saw him scramble to find another dance partner for that date, getting stripped by the IBF and then digging in his heels for a 45/55 split with Alvarez.
“You’re absolutely right; he’s in a great mood. He’s in a great mood because he knows exactly what he’s going to do do Canelo,” said Sanchez, who described their training camp as ”perfect.” Golovkin’s side believes, this time around, it’s a more level playing field, given they now have a different set of judges, a referee upon whom was mutually agreed and the glove situation has seemingly been settled.
So all that’s really left to do now is fight. As for what happens, Sanchez stated, “I envision Canelo coming out trying to prove something because the pressure that’s on him. I think he will fight and I think we’re going to be treated to a great fight. I see Golovkin wearing him down in a stoppage, somewhere late in the fight, and, if not, he knocks him down a couple times or at least once and wins a decision.”
On this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me, you’ll hear from Sanchez and Oscar De La Hoya about the big rematch, along with WBC junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco, who mix it up in Fresno, this Friday night on ESPN:
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