BIG BEAR LAKE, Ca.: Temperatures were a cool 50 degrees in Big Bear Mountain while down in the valley below it hovered around 80.
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin waited with a smile inside the heated gym that belies the murderous punching power in his fists. The true middleweight world champion may perhaps be the sport’s nicest person until that bell rings. Then the beast comes out.
It was media day for Team GGG on Monday and one by one reporters filtered into the training gym that Abel Sanchez built with his own hands 15 years ago. It’s home base for Golovkin and about a dozen other prizefighters from around the world.
“It’s my job,” answered Golovkin when asked if he gets tired of all the media. “I like doing it.”
Mr. Golovkin greeted everyone with the same cordialness regardless of rank and serial number. Everyone in the gym has the same congeniality, including young budding stars Joel Diaz Jr., Konstantin Ponomarev and Ruslan Madiev.
Diaz will be fighting soon, perhaps in late June. Ponomarev steps in the ring this Friday at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas against Mikael Zewski in a battle of undefeated welterweights. Madiev fights on Thursday at Fantasy Springs Casino in his fourth pro fight.
It’s the big week for boxing with undefeated Floyd Mayweather meeting Manny Pacquiao. Both trainers Abel Sanchez and Ben Lira believe that Mayweather’s skill set and boxing mind will allow him to make necessary adjustments to ultimately prevail.
Golovkin (32-0, 29 Kos) has a middleweight title defense against young middleweight southpaw Willie Monroe Jr. (19-1, 6 Kos) on May 16, at the Inglewood Forum. It’s the second time he performs in front of a Los Angeles area crowd that has quickly adopted him as a local hero. Monroe is a fleet-footed lefty with moves and speed to perplex anyone in the ring, as those who faced him in the Boxcino tournament recently can attest.
Can Golovkin adjust?
“I want to fight any style because I need to fight any style. Sometime short guys, sometimes tall guys,” said Golovkin, as if intending to run the list of middleweight contenders. “There will be a lot of different changes especially for his style as a southpaw.”
Though most of Golovkin’s opponents have not been defensive-minded southpaws, he’s no stranger to that style because of his massive amateur experience that numbered more than 300 fights.
“I remember a lot in my amateur career. Especially in Germany I faced two or three who had that move a lot style. It’s not a difficult style, but it’s not real boxing. I want to fight,” said Golovkin.
Team Golovkin now includes his wife and family, who recently swapped the cold snowy grounds of Kazakhstan for the warm gentle breezes of Southern California.
“My wife is very happy because of the beautiful weather and the whole situation. I understand it’s very different. Not difficult, but very different for her,” Golovkin said.
It’s another dimension in the life of the middleweight champion but one he happily invites.
“It’s different a little bit because before my focus was only on training,” he said. “Now my family is in LA. But it’s very good for me and very good for my family.”
Another added dimension has been his fluency in English. Now his wife is learning English and both can settle into a Southern California lifestyle.
But on May 16, he defends the middleweight world titles he holds like so many trinkets.
“You know this is my job. I train hard, I like it. I have time to rest, Golovkin said. “I want to thank all the people who are my fans.”
Follow David A. Avila on Twitter: