Cold comfort: Gennady Golovkin is ready for the Canelo Alvarez rematch
Unified middleweight titlist Gennady “GGG” Golovkin didn’t have much to say at last Tuesday’s formal press conference announcing his rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. If anything, he was comfortable – a word he used frequently throughout the print media interview and later onstage, outside of the Microsoft Theater, in downtown Los Angeles. It isn’t uncommon that Golovkin takes his time searching for an answer, only to come up with a few positive words, but saying he was comfortable was his go-to word for this day. Sometimes it wouldn’t really even answer a given question but out of respect for the Kazakhstani fighter, there is little-to-no follow-up to the non-answers. Maybe they’re charmed by the grin but thinking Golovkin is having trouble comprehending what is being said would be a mistake. He knows whats going on and, besides, the people who helped build his career and put him in the position he’s in today are always happy to speak for him.
“He knows he needs to beat someone like Canelo to take his career to a different level,” said promoter Tom Loeffler in his opening statement. “Canelo needs ‘Triple G’ and Triple-G needs Canelo to make these type of mega-fights. We sat down with Abel Sanchez and there was no hesitation on the Triple G side to make the rematch.”
Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, was even asked the first question of the sit-down and, quickly, the lasting narrative of last Tuesday’s event was revealed in the first answer.
“I think (Canelo) ran a lot more than I thought he was going to,” said Sanchez. “I talked to Jordan about making some shoes that are a little bit faster for (Golovkin), so maybe we can catch him. I hope, for the fans, he puts on the kind of fight that he said he was going to do the first time and that he’s saying he’s going to do this time. I’m not saying to go toe-to-toe with Gennady but I’m saying at least be there and throw punches with the intent of trying to knock him out, instead of throwing punches in desperation, which is what he did in the end of the fight. In the last part of the fight, (Canelo) threw three or four shots just to look flashy for the judges and then he moved. That’s not the kind of fight that I think we all want to see and that’s not the kind of fight he’s talking about doing. If he’s intent on knocking him out, there’s going to be moments in there when they’re going to be close enough to hurt each other and both of them are big punchers.”
The split draw was an underwhelming way to end an otherwise solid fight between two of the best the sport has to offer. As good as it was, it couldn’t get out of the way of Adalaide Byrd’s shadow in its aftermath. Her 118-110 score for Canelo, 49-1-2 (34), took over the conversation and it’s bleeding into the second promotion because Team GGG is returning to the scene of the crime they’ve alleged.
“I would say it was 75% Canelo fans in the stands, mostly because they were Mexican and he got booed when he was being interviewed. Why? Because they didn’t like the tactic; they want a fight,” Sanchez proudly stated.
It’s too early in the process for Loeffler to keep an eye on what judges the state of Nevada hands him, but, with it being put under a big spotlight ahead of time, as he put it, he felt confident to run it back in Sin City.
“Negotiations slowed down a little bit because Canelo, frankly, took the position that it was a draw and he wanted the same terms, but we came to an agreement,” Loeffler said. “This is what the fans want. We made a lot of concessions on our side; they made some concessions on their side and here we are for May 5 in Las Vegas.”
Gennady patiently sat for a few minutes before he finally spoke after Sanchez’s promotional declaration.
“I understand what I need for victory this time. First fight is first fight,” he shrugged. “Yes, of course,” he simply stated when asked if he still thinks he won the first fight.
Golovkin, 37-0-1 (33), didn’t seem to care about talking about something that couldn’t be fixed. Not to mention, it surely was a pressing issue in the prior days of media appearances. On the previous Friday night, Golovkin was at an L.A. house party for Michael Jordan’s 55th birthday and. once it was eventually brought up by Loeffler, Gennady showed his most revealing emotion of the sit-down: embarrassment, as Tom described an instance in which Jordan put his arms around Golovkin. “C’ mon Tom,” Golovkin said jokingly about interacting with one of his favorite childhood athletes. Today, Jordan is Golovkin’s main sponsor and, besides being another note to GGG’s remarkable rise in the United States, Golovkin is starting to get a taste of what it’s like to be idolized back home in Kazakhstan. Even having followed Golovkin around through this journey, not many really know the man behind the smile but even he has said that he doesn’t consider himself worthy of that brand of praise. Golovkin approaches middleweight history in this rematch being one defense shy of Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 straight but when asked how he feels about it, Golovkin shrugged it off, saying, “That question is not for me. Too much for me.”
It’s safe to say Golovkin isn’t too fond of the business aspect of the sport but doesn’t complain about it either. Golovkin enters the rematch having to wait eight-and-a-half months since his last fight – his longest span of inactivity – but that’s the norm these days for fighters entrenched in the pay-per-view market.
“I’m a fighter. I need a fight…This is biggest fight for us.” he said. Turning 36 in April, Golovkin is currently two weeks into training at Sanchez’s Summit Gym in Big Bear, California, but when Sabchez was asked if there will be anything different this time around, he said, “We won the first one, 8-4, in my opinion. If we do the same thing and Canelo does the same thing, it’s the same kind of fight. They both know each other now; it’s obviously going to be a different fight. Gennady said something; he says, ‘I couldn’t because he wouldn’t let me and he wouldn’t.’ So hopefully this time he does and we have the kind of fight that is expected or was expected.”
Golovkin answered the only question this writer squeezed in, when asked if he thought he landed his best punch against Canelo in the first fight. Before a long pause, he said, “I don’t feel much. I feel I bring more to my punches. I feel I win. Seven rounds, just like that. Not power, not strategy. I think, for me and for Canelo, this fight – the first fight – is a little bit crazy, terrible. Because I can’t – he doesn’t want – like that. I believe the second fight is like new fight. Much bigger, much better.”
As for Golovkin’s take on the judging on that evening, last September, in Vegas, he said, “I feel very comfortable. I’m a boxer; I’m not judges.” If there was any revelation from Golovkin, on this day, it was how he bad he thought the first fight was. “I think this was a bad day for us, for both,” Golovkin said, later in the event when fans got to ask questions. “Right now, I promise I’m still ready. I promise to bring great show and I believe Canelo the same – he brings amazing show. It’s a big day for us.”
By all accounts, Golovkin isn’t fixated on the first fight but the promotion of the rematch will be. According to him, he’s only seen it twice and refers to actually partaking in the fight as his first time watching. On that stage, Golovkin barely spoke but there was no stopping the verbal jabs between his trainer and Canelo. Sanchez made it clear that it’s nothing personal with the writers downstairs but with plenty of fans crowded around on a wet day in L.A., the pot needed to be stirred. Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya was also there to promote the fight and after saying the first bout was one of the best fights in the last 15-to-20 years, Sanchez made sure to call BS on the matter, the next time he got a chance to speak. Alvarez was in rare form in defending his performance and the debate got a bit heated, once he commanded the event with a good case highlighted by Spanish quips and insults. Golovkin seemed to enjoy it and maybe that was because he didn’t have to do anything.
Unlike the first go-round, Canelo-Golovkin II won’t have a world tour and won’t have much press events until late-April. Although he certainly doesn’t control his Twitter account, GGG summed up something he may have been looking forward to: preparing for the fight.
The promotion is over. Now it’s time for hard work. pic.twitter.com/kx0WnNFpcM
— Gennady Golovkin (@GGGBoxing) February 28, 2018
In the little he did say on this occasion, Golovkin still managed to reveal the entire truth of the rematch, when asked how he felt physically, compared to a few years ago.
“I think I feel the same. I feel my power and believe in my style. I thank my people who support me and my team,” Golovkin said before eluding to why there is a debate in the first place. “Different class. Canelo is a different guy.”
The promotion won’t be over and the debate won’t end, leading up to May 5, at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, but all that can be easily turned off for Golovkin, as he prepares himself in the secluded mountains of Big Bear. Golovkin’s philosophy on the sport of boxing isn’t debated with words, for promotions sake, but fought in the ring. The gym is where Golovkin feels most comfortable and having now experienced just how great a challenge Canelo presents, there is plenty of added drive, aside from trying to right a wrong. Golovkin is just as sure Canelo will be ready, willing and confident heading into the rematch and, once he comes down the mountain again, two months from now, there is no doubt GGG will be ready to perform in one of the biggest fights the sport has to offer. That’s all that really matters ands although his cavalier counterpart was willing to engage in all the talk, Canelo will be ready too. He’s just a different guy.
Part Two on Canelo to follow tomorrow night…