Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is one of the three top middleweights in the world who makes Southern California his base of operations.
Big Bear Lake is Golovkin’s training center, high in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The other two middleweights are Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, who trains in Oxnard, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who can usually be found in nearby Riverside.
Golovkin, Martinez and Chavez are the most famous and talented of the middleweights, according to various sources.
WBA and IBO middleweight titleholder Golovkin (25-0, 22 Kos) seeks to distance himself from the others beginning with a defense against Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida (24-8-2, 9 Kos) next Saturday March 30. It’s part of a middleweight tournament taking place in Monaco. It will be televised via pay-per-view television.
Last week in Manhattan Beach, Golovkin and Ishida met for a luncheon press conference at the Marriott Hotel. Unlike previous media affairs, this one was well-attended as Golovkin’s accomplishments continue to grow.
“I respect all fighters,” says Golovkin, whose meteoric rise can be attributed mostly to television networks finally showing his fights. “He’s a good fighter with a lot of experience.”
Whenever someone new speaks to Golovkin they ask about his possibly entertaining a match with Floyd Mayweather or maybe even super middleweight Andre Ward. They’re not bad questions but few realize that the Kazakhstani is actually a natural 154-pounder.
“Nobody would fight him at 154 so he moved up,” said Abel Sanchez, who trains Golovkin at the Summit in Big Bear Lake.
It’s easy to surmise that Golovkin can drop down to 154. He stands about 5-10” in height and his natural easy-going personality makes him seem like one of those dancers on Dancing With The Stars, not one of the most feared 160-pounders in the world.
Ishida is another middleweight who can fool with his appearance. At 6-2” in height and with his pop icon hair-do, Ishida looks about as menacing as a comical anime character.
“I have a lot of respect for Gennady and his power,” said Ishida through a translator. “I consider him to be one of the best middleweights in the world.”
Ishida recently brawled with WBO middleweight titleholder Dmitry Pirog and lost by decision in the Russian’s home country. He also surprisingly knocked out James Kirkland then celebrated by running up and down the MGM Garden Arena stairs with a Japanese flag.
“Ishida is taller than me and that does present different challenges,” said Golovkin, 30. “I saw his fight with Pirog and I know how tough he is.”
Pirog was supposed to fight Golovkin but suffered a hand injury that scuttled that potential fight.
Golovkin doesn’t worry about it. During the press conference reporters asked about other possible match ups and scenarios and he quietly and politely defused the questions and returned the focus to Ishida, who sat close by.
“I saw what he did to James Kirkland,” said Golovkin.
Promoter Tom Loeffler of K-2 Promotions says that Golovkin is ready to fight any of the other world champions but is focused on this fight.
“He doesn’t mind fighting in any country against any champion,” said Loeffler of Golovkin.
The other two elite middleweights Martinez and Chavez have some unfinished business to attend. Once the suspension is lifted from Mexico’s Chavez they will probably meet in a rematch. But what happens after?
“Right now my focus is Ishida,” repeats Golovkin. “It’s a great fight.”
Ishida’s trainer Daisuke Okabe only had these words to say about Ishida: “He’s like a samurai warrior and will do everything possible to win.”
Next Saturday, one of the middleweight triumvirate will battle.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?