Abel Sanchez stays busy
They say there is no rest for the weary and that certainly is the case for trainer Abel Sanchez, who, after a week spent in Russia (where his fighters emerged with two big victories) is now in New Zealand, where his man Andy Ruiz Jr. faces Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO heavyweight title.
After returning to Southern California on late Sunday afternoon, Sanchez had a scheduled flight to Auckland on Monday evening.
“I’m going to go home now and clean up and get my stuff ready, pack my bags and I leave tomorrow night at 8 o’clock,”Sanchez told UCNlive.com on Sunday evening, as he was driving back up to Big Bear. For this fight – as Sanchez attended to Denis Shafikov and Murat Gassiev – Ruiz went up to New Zealand with assistant trainer Ben Lira.
For a world-class trainer, this is all part of the gig.
“Y’ know what? We ask for this. We ask a lot from the fighters and we owe it to them to make sure we perform the way we ask them to perform,” he explained. “And this is part of my duties. I love it, though. I was talking to somebody the other day. This is like a parent watching their children mature into adults and mature into great fighters and it’s our job to be there beside them and make sure we’re still guiding them. So I’m looking forward to this trip and I’m coming back and going to the WBC Convention and then, after that, we have a fight on the 16th with Ryan Martin.
“So I Iove this job.”
Business is good for Sanchez, who, years ago, led Terry and Orlin Norris to titles and Miguel Angel Gonzalez to significant opportunities. Buoyed by the success he’s had with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, he has assembled one of the most talented stables in all of boxing, out of his Summit Gym in Big Bear.
Last Friday in Moscow, Shafikov eked out a tough split decision over the game Richard Commey in an IBF lightweight title eliminator. It was a tough, grind-’em-out affair that saw Shafikov put consistent pressure on Commey, who bent, at times, but never broke.
“That one was close. That one, going into the last round, I thought it could’ve been a draw,” Sanchez admitted. “I thought it could’ve been a draw. We may have pulled out the last round. Denis invested a lot in the beginning of the fight in body work, so that helped us towards the end. But I love Denis; he just works his ass off in the gym and he gives you 100 percent and he never complains. Just like how he fought that night – that’s how he trains. He works his butt off.”
With the win, Shafikov has earned the right to face IBF beltholder Robert Easter Jr., who, like the two men who have previously outpointed Shafikov, is a tall, rangy fighter, which presents a bit of a problem for the diminutive southpaw. The highly regarded trainer doesn’t disagree with this assessment. “Absolutely, unfortunately, for Denis, he’s five-foot-nothing and bow-legged and short and doesn’t have a big wallop,” said Sanchez, chuckling. “But he’s there on your butt the whole fight and I think – and I’m going to tell the truth – Commey has a bigger ticker than Robert Easter.
“I think, if the pressure gets to Robert Easter, I think it will be the type of fight we had with Jamel Herring.”
The next night in Moscow, Sanchez made it two-for-two by guiding Gassiev to a split nod over the tough-as-a-combat-boot Denis Lebedev for his IBF cruiserweight title. While he came out victorious, Gassiev frustrated his trainer by not pressuring the defending champion more after sending him to the canvas in the fourth stanza with a left hook to the body.
“I don’t know if you could hear me in the corner but I was screaming at him, wondering what the hell he was waiting for,” recalled Sanchez, who says he was still confident when the bell had sounded after the 12th frame that his man had done more than enough to get his hands raised in victory. “But then again, we have a kid that’s 23 years old, only had 25 amateur fights, now 24 pro fights. So the experience of Lebedev, what he was doing, it could’ve confused (Gassiev) a little bit. But that’s OK; if he can beat the hell outta Lebedev with no experience, imagine in three or four fights, when we can get not only more gym time but fight time, how good he’s going to be.”
Sanchez believes the 23-year-old is just beginning to scratch the surface of his ability.
“If he’s able to do this to Lebedev and Lebedev’s been destructive to everybody that he’s fought and we feel (Gassiev) was 60 percent – he can get a heckuva lot better. It’s just a matter of doing his job,” said the trainer, who says his young charge will never get out of line with him for a very simple reason.
“Gennady wont let him be that way,” explained Sanchez. “Gennady wont let anybody in the gym be like that. Either you work or you’re not in the gym, you’re not around Gennady because he’ll make it clear that this is a serious business and you’re going to work or you’re not going to be here. He doesn’t say that but he makes it clear with his actions.”
It’s clear that “GGG” is the top deputy at the Summit.
“Oh, absolutely and, y’ know what? The great thing is I really don’t have to say anything because Gennady will say, ‘You don’t do that to Coach.’ He’ll get on their ass. He is very, very adamant about the way we work,” stated Sanchez, who attempts to make it a December trifecta with Ruiz.
“I think this is the kind of fight that heavyweight fights will be patterned after because these are two guys that are going to hit each other. They’re not going to wrestle. They’re not going to hold. They’re going to hit each other and they’re going to hit each other for as long as the fight goes. Parker’s a very good fighter but so is Andy,” said Sanchez, who’s confident his man is prepared for battle.
So how did Golovkin’s training camp go in Big Bear for the past month-and-a-half?
Sanchez told UCNLive.com, “(Golovkin) worked with the guys and, preliminarily, he was there more for Murat and for Andy than for himself. Just like when we were in Russia, he spent 30 minutes in the dressing room talking to Murat about the fight and what was coming up and then Murat had about three hours to wait for the urine test because he couldn’t pee and Gennady was in the dressing room waiting for him till he got back so he could congratulate him and he also went to Denis’ locker room and congratulated him.
“And that’s the type of leader he is and we don’t ask for it but he’s there.”
For this camp, which does not culminate with an actual fight, Golovkin did not engage in any sparring.
“But he does everything else with the guys and really he does it at their speed and their level and everything because he’s still in that good of shape,” Sanchez stated. “He’s not that heavy and he doesn’t allow himself to get out of shape, so he pushes the guys and they push him.”
Sanchez says he has given Golovkin the rest of the year off to enjoy the holidays with his family and will have him back up in Big Bear at the beginning of the New Year.
The HBO broadcast on Saturday (which begins at 9:35 p.m. ET) will first have the tape-delay of the Parker-Ruiz fight and then the two live bouts from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, featuring Terence Crawford-John Molina Jr. and Ray Beltran-Mason Menard…Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev did a live gate of $3.3 million with just over 10,000 tickets sold…How ’bout that season finale of HBO’s “Westworld”? Whoa, talk about some new narratives…Soooo, Al Golden goes back to Temple?…If I’m Steve Kerr, I let it ride with Klay Thompson and see if he could’ve at least broke Kobe’s 81-point mark…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.