Gennady Golovkin believes bigger and better things are in store for him after Saturday’s fight against Curtis Stevens at Madison Square Garden in New York. When asked of the middleweight division’s biggest names, men like Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., Golovkin told TSS he was ready and willing.
“Yes, I want it,” said Golovkin. “Of course.”
Golovkin (seen above with ex NFLer and current talk show host Michael Strahan) seems the patient sort. He confirmed it again when asked which trait was more important to his success, his technical ability or his power.
“Patience,” said Golovkin.
Trainer Abel Sanchez said that kind of thinking was all by design.
“His patience and his demeanor in the ring is something we’ve developed through hard work and dedication in the gym,” said Sanchez. “Before, he was more of a stand-up, European fighter. He made the commitment to adapt his style to suit more the American public.”
So is Golovkin more aggressive now as a professional than he was when he won the silver medal in the 2004 Olympics?
“I call the style aggressive defense,” said Sanchez. “It’s aggressive but not stupid aggressive. It sets up what we want to do and sets up the opponent to do what we want him to do…the only way we do that is to be aggressive and be ready for the opportunity to arrive. And it always seems to arrive. Whether it’s Gennady or Terry Norris or any of the other guys I’ve worked with, those are the things we try to instill in the gym, things we work on so that it is repetitive and just comes natural on fight night.”
Indeed, Golovkin looks the natural at it when the bell rings. The way he systematically breaks down his opponents and destroys each and every one of them is a throwback to the great pressure fighters of old. Golovkin is on his way to superstardom in America, a fact not missed by his promoter, Tom Loeffler.
“He brings a very exciting and entertaining style, and when you couple that with his humble and respectful personality outside the ring, it’s a great and very unique combination,” said Loeffler. ”It’s something that the American boxing fans have really taken to. There are a lot of fighters who are very boastful before a fight, but then they fail to deliver in the fight. It’s the opposite with Gennady. And because of his KO ratio — he’s knocked out his last 14 opponents — he provides a very exciting fight in the ring.”
Loeffler said Golovkin was a fighter by nature. He said the hard punching middleweight first entered the boxing gym at 8 years old. It was something all his friends were doing, and it soon became his life.
And what a life it’s been. At 31, Golovkin is the number one ranked middleweight contender per the Transnational Boxing Rakings Board. He also holds the WBA and IBO title belts.
Team Golovkin has big things in store for their fighter. After Stevens, Golovkin’s fourth bout of the year, Loeffler said they are planning to stay just as busy in 2014. Moreover, he said Golovkin wants to test himself against the biggest and best names in the sport.
“Sergio Martinez has typically been considered the best middleweight out there,” said Loeffler. “He’s been injured after his last two fights, so while he’s injured we like to consider on our side that Gennady is the best middleweight out there. That’s no disrespect to Sergio.”
So who’s next?
“We’d love to fight Sergio Martinez. We’d love to make a fight with Julios Cesar Chavez, Jr. The nice thing about working with Gennady is that from our side it’s easy to make fights.”
Loeffler said it’s been easy to sell his Kazakhstan-born fighter to an action hungry American fan base.
“I think it’s because the American fans like his style in the ring,” said Loeffler.
Sanchez, who has helped build Golovkin’s style into what it is today, said he and the rest of Team Golovkin were aware of the situation they were in. All of them feel Golovkin is a special fighter meant for big things in the sport.
“These types of fighters come along very seldom,” said Sanchez.
I asked Sanchez how he helps Golovkin prepare for a hard puncher like Stevens. Do they work on a different approach than they’ve used in the past? Or will it be business as usual for Golovkin when the bell rings?
“We don’t change. We need to do what we do best and let them adapt to us. Gennady is going to be the Gennady you’ve seen in the past. Obviously, we’re aware of what Stevens has. He has a really good left hook. We’re aware of all those things, but if we start to adapt to him, we’re not doing something 100%. He’s going to be the Gennady of old, the one you saw against Matt Macklin. Once he lands a shot, he’ll be able to dictate what else is going to happen until the end.”
Sanchez said they take the same approach outside the ring. In short, they focus on what they control, and let everything else fall into place.
“We decided last year that we were going to be real busy. And if we stay busy, then all those chips will fall into place when the time comes,” said Sanchez.
Even chips like Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.? Will those chips fall into place, too?
“They’ll have to,” said Sanchez. “The public and the media will force them into it. And there will be enough money then for them to take the chance.”
Appropriately, Golovkin had the last word in our chat. I asked him why he’s a boxer. Why choose such a difficult and demanding way of life? What drives him to make his living by knocking other men to the floor?
“Good question,” said Golovkin. “I don’t know why. Because.”
And that answer seems wildly appropriate. Because some men are just born for it.