Professional boxers as a whole are among the least snobbish and entitled athletes of all.
Basketball stars, soccer or futbol players, and baseball guys are among the most pampered and spoiled of all paid athletes.
But among boxers, there are some guys and girls that would seemingly give you the shirt off their back… unless you’re in the boxing ring with them. Then, all bets are off.
Mr. Nice Guy, better known as Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (27-0, 24 Kos), has a date to meet challenger Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (25-3, 18 Kos) in his hometown New York City. The two will meet in Stevens’ hood for the WBA and IBO middleweight titles on Nov. 2.
When you’ve been around boxers for more than 20 years you get a true sense of who the truly nice people are in the sport. Over the years there have been fighters like Israel “El Magnifico” Vazquez, who once offered his seat in a taxi to me deep in Mexico. It was late at night and a taxi could only fit four people. There were five of us. Vazquez insisted I take the taxi and he wait for another. He had nothing to gain, he was already retired. I refused and politely guided the former warrior into the car.
Another guy not known for kindness is Floyd Mayweather. A few years back when I was watching him prepare for Dancing With The Stars, me and several others were left stranded in the desolate part of Las Vegas. It was a few hours before a big fight and our ride was nowhere to be found. Mayweather spotted me outside and asked what had happened. When I told him our taxi left, he gave up his own car and had one of his guys drive me and the others to the casino where the fight was being held. Meanwhile, Mayweather had to wait for his guy to return before he could leave.
As a journalist you never forget those things.
Golovkin is like that too. It’s something that some of the truly great fighters have in common. They’re conscientious of others outside of the ring, then deadly efficient as a rattlesnake inside the squared circle.
The middleweight from Kazakhstan has big plans for the immediate future and despite having an imposing threat in front of him like Stevens, the cherubicly smiling Golovkin talks respectfully about the future.
“Stevens is a good fighter. I respect him,” said Golovkin, who had knocked out all but two opponents he’s faced. “He’s very strong. He’s a good puncher.”
Abel Sanchez, who trains Golovkin in Big Bear, says that his student has extreme confidence in his own chin.
“He’s never been knocked down as a pro or as an amateur,” said Sanchez, adding that Golovkin had more than 300 amateur fights.
Before Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. performed poorly against Bryan Vera, there were rumblings that Golovkin might collide with the son of Mexico’s great champion. There were also murmurs of Golovkin meeting Andre Ward, who was having a press conference immediately after GGG’s earlier luncheon at the Manhattan Beach Marriott.
When photographers asked Ward to pose with Golovkin there was a big difference in height. Not to mention the super middleweight champion from Oakland seemed none to pleased to be standing next to the smiling Golovkin.
Ward seemed angry and did not try to hide it. He wouldn’t even discuss a fight with Golovkin.
Team Golovkin walked away but before everyone left they wanted the press to know that they were not overlooking Stevens.
“We know what he (Stevens) can do,” said Tom Loeffler, whose represents K2 Promotions. “But Gennady has never been down on the canvas.”
When it comes to punchers you never know who can take whose punches until they step in the ring.
Golovkin doesn’t worry.
“This is not crazy. This is a sport. Just relax,” says Golovkin. “He’s a good puncher. It’s a great fight. It’s a good situation.”
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?