Joe Goossen is back (Actually he never left)
The rumors of Joe Goossen’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. No, we haven’t seen the noted trainer in as many big fights over the past several years but as he works with his newest client Amir Khan, at his Ten Goose Gym, in Van Nuys, California, it’s clear that he’s still very much a presence in the sport.
Don’t call it a comeback – because Goossen never really left.
“I’ve always been working. Maybe I have not had the major fights that got all the publicity and the eyes on you but I’ve been busy. I’m always in the gym and if you’re in the gym, things will happen eventually,” he said a couple of weeks before leaving for the U.K. for Khan’s bout against Samuel Vargas, on September 8, at the Arena Birmingham.
He continued, “And it does come in waves sometimes; you have your dry spells and then it’s not always feast or famine but somewhere in between but, y’know…it’s just the way boxing is. I’ve experienced it before; through the ’80s, you have your down times, the ’90s, 2000s. After (Diego) Corrales, there was a little down time after that. Then it picked up again.”
“Then it picked up again. I did a lot with (John) Molina (Jr.); I can’t even remember who else after that, then I’ve done some fights with like ‘Tug’ (Tugstsogt Nyambayar), trying to bring him up, Dardan (Zenunaj), trying to bring him up, a few other people. But now again, the pendulum swings.”
In Khan, Goossen doesn’t believe he has just an A-level talent but a ”Triple A” and now he finds himself involved in a big event in England and perhaps bigger promotions down the line. And should he have success in helping resurrect Khan’s career, Goossen’s phone will be ringing off the hook. “It’s somewhere between feast and famine and right now it’s surging towards feast but, as most boxing trainers know, the nature of the game is like this,” he states.
Goossen has had an impressive career as a cornerman. Former two-division titlist Michael “Second to” Nunn’s best days as a boxer came under his tutelage. He developed the Ruelas brothers (Rafael and Gabriel) from scratch into world champions. He steadied the talented Joel Casamayor early on in his career and then served as the troubleshooter for “Chico” Corrales. It’s a Hall of Fame resume by any standard.
Now, Khan – who’s certainly had a colorful career – is his latest project. Goossen took over for Virgil Hunter, who fell ill.
As for how he got this gig, it was through a mutual friend of both Khan and his and with an April 21 bout looming against Phil Lo Greco, Khan needed a trainer and he reached out to Goossen.
“He literally called me five weeks to the date, when the fight took place on a Sunday night. He said, ‘Can you be here in San Francisco?’ and I said yeah and I showed up there. We had kind of a meet-and-greet in the gym and went through a few workouts. It’s almost like you’re auditioning in a way, see what you got and we both hit it off,” said Goossen, who held this training camp with Khan at his gym.
As Goossen works with Khan, it’s very clear that he is still very much a hands-on trainer. This isn’t just some guy with a towel over his shoulder who rattles off a few cliched phrases to his fighter from the corner. Goossen and Khan have an obvious chemistry together in the gym and they enjoy each other’s company.
In the past, Khan – who Goossen calls “undoubtedly the fastest guy I’ve worked with” – has been reckless in the ring with his speed and quickness and hasn’t always been able to mask his defensive deficiencies and his shaky chin. There is a clear emphasis on controlling his speed and getting his hands back in proper position after he punches.
It’s evident that Goossen still enjoy this process of preparing and teaching a fighter.
“Probably more than anything else that I do, that’s probably what I enjoy most,” he says, “especially when you get somebody like Amir Khan asking you to join his team. That’s a privilege for me and I want to show him that he made the right decision and so I’m out to prove to him – just like he’s out to prove to his opponent – I’m out to prove who’s the best out there right now for him.
“And I think that we’ve really jelled well. I think the communication is very easy between us. There’s no lack of communication; that’s for sure and I just think we hit it off in a lot of ways.”
To listen to the complete Goossen interview, drop in on the latest edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me:
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