Will age determine Gennady Golovkin’s success in 2017?
This Saturday night from Madison Square Garden in New York City, unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin faces the dangerous Daniel Jacobs (HBO Pay-Per-View, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Many pundits believe the “Miracle Man’ from Brooklyn, with his size, speed and power, poses the greatest threat Golovkin has faced in his title reign.
In less than one month – on April 8 – Golovkin will turn 35.
That said, could age and mileage be a factor in Golovkin near-future as he begins his 2017 campaign?
His trainer Abel Sanchez said last month at his gym, the Summit in Big Bear, California, “I truly believe that you have to remember (Golovkin) turned pro in 2006. So he’s only been a pro 10, 11 years. He hasn’t had that wear-and-tear on his body, yet. So I think he’s going to be OK.”
But with him now into his mid-30s, Sanchez began adjusting the amount of sparring in which Golovkin participates as he prepares for his fights. Sanchez explained, “For the last six fights, I’ve only sparred him 75 rounds, nine days total we spar for the fight. He spars hard when he’s ready to spar. He doesn’t spar to get into shape or to lose weight, so the nine days we get the most out of it. By the ninth day, he’s sparring; he’s ready to go. He’s anxious to go.”
It’s clear that, after an amateur career that spanned well over 300 bouts and 36 pro outings, Sanchez believes his man knows how to fight; no need to leave it in the gym. According to his trainer, Golovkin has the same work ethic he did when they first hooked up.
“In the gym, yes, he has the same work ethic, On the run, he has the same work ethic. I think, sometimes, you notice, when he’s by himself or when we’re not training, the frustration of people just talking. He’s not as optimistic as he used to be when he was younger, as far as guys fighting him,” said Sanchez. “So that right there has been frustrating but the rest of it, no, that’s been the same.”
2016 was a bit of a buzzkill for Golovkin and his team. Not only did they not get the marquee fights for which they yearned but they fought just twice last year (the first time that has occurred since 2012).
“(Gennady) was pissed; he was upset because three fights a year, four fights a year is what he’s used to and he didn’t want that much time off. That’s why he came back to train with (Murat) Gassiev and (Andy) Ruiz Jr., “said Sanchez, in regard to Golovkin coming to Big Bear in the late fall to train alongside his stablemates, despite his Dec. 10 date getting kiboshed, as negotiations with Jacobs lingered.
Golovkin is hoping for a more productive 2017, “I hope,” he stated a couple of weeks ago at the Wild Card West in Santa Monica, California, during his media day. “Last year, just too much talking, Chris Eubank, Carl Froch, (WBO middleweight titleholder Billy Joe) Saunders; ‘Canelo’ (Alvarez) give me his (WBC) belt. No interest, just OK, I talk; I talk.’ Seriously, what happened?”
(It was at this point, in front of the gathered media, that Tom Loeffler quipped, “It wasn’t my fault,” which brought out laughter from everyone in the room.)
“No, seriously, too much talking, too much bad talking and this year is much more serious,” continued Golovkin. “Daniel, he’s ready, y’know, of course, my 100-percent focus is on Daniel and I believe, for this year, it’s much better, maybe. Like Golden Boy (Promotions) said (Canelo’s) ready, 100-percent ready for September. Maybe Saunders, he’s ready for unification for all the belts. I think this year is much better.”
For as much as a letdown as 2016 was for Golovkin, it was the same for his trainer. Hey, when you’re Ron Turcotte, you want to ride Secretariat as often as possible. “It was a huge disappointment,” admitted Sanchez, “because we know that (Golovkin’s) putting on the kind of fights we want to see, the kind I want to see as a fan too. And to miss out on a third fight that year was heartbreaking.”
The last time we saw Golovkin, he put forth a rather reckless outing against IBF welterweight titlist Kell Brook, on Sept. 10. While”GGG” scored a fifth round stoppage, it wasn’t his best technical performance.
“I think the frustration of not getting the fights that people are saying he wants to get, maybe, in his own mind, he wanted to look vulnerable. It wasn’t something that I planned on and it wasn’t anything we talked about here,” said Sanchez. “But now, that I recall back on some of the interviews he kept saying he wants, to make it a ‘street fight,’ maybe that was a code word for, ‘I want to look terrible, so that maybe I get some fights’”
As they prepare for Jacobs, one thing is clear: They are not looking past him. Everything that has been built over the past several years could come crashing down, in one fell swoop, with a defeat. Golovkin says of his upcoming foe, “Daniel, seriously, he has good boxing style, good boxing; he has power. I think, for me, he’s the best amateur fighter from Brooklyn, from East Coast. He’s a very good boxer. Right now, it’s very serious, very interesting for me. Not just for me, us.”
Jacobs has a record of 32-1 (29), and holds a “regular” version of the WBA title but, despite these credentials, there are still those who will always define him by the one blemish on his ledger – the stoppage loss at the hands of Dmitry Pirog back in the summer of 2010. That said, Jacobs had a heavy heart that week, with the death of his grandmother, who had effectively raised him.
Golovkin and his handlers aren’t putting too much stock into that one fight.
“Absolutely, I don’t think the Pirog fight should’ve been stopped,” opined Sanchez, who pointed out, “(Referee) Robert Byrd held him down. (Jacobs) kept saying, ‘I’m OK. I’m OK. I’m OK.’ But, no, the Pirog fight is seven years ago and, (in) the Pirog fight, (Jacobs) got caught with one shot. He was doing OK when Pirog caught him with that one shot. (Jacobs) progressed; he’s gotten a lot better and, for him to knock (Peter) Quillin out in one round, I think that he’s positive about what’ he’s doing.”
Golovkin states, “Right now, Daniel he’s much better, seriously, and I know Pirog. I met him in Germany about seven years ago and I think, this time, Daniel had problems with health and family inside, like that. After all, he’s much smarter. It’s good experience for him. Right now, he’s more smarter, more stronger, much better.”
So how does Sanchez – who’s never afraid to let express his opinions forecast this upcoming contest?
“I think Danny will put up a great fight till the middle of the fight and, somewhere in the second part of the fight, between the seventh and ninth, Gennady’s too strong and will have been touching him during those rounds and the corner will stop it like they did with (Curtis) Stevens or Danny will just succumb to a good shot.”
It was exactly what was hoped for between David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens, who slugged it out for three rounds, before Lemieux ended things with a devastating left hook that knocked Stevens out cold. In case you missed it, or Yuriorkis Gamboa put you into a slumber from which you couldn’t wake. Here are the highlights:
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