The MODERATOR: This is Fred Sternburg, and on behalf of GGG Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and all of our wonderful sponsors, welcome to Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin’s media conference call.
We are 11 days away from the Big Drama Show: The rematch everyone has been looking forward to. Gennady is in his last week of training camp at The Summit in Big Bear Lake, California, where he’s been working hard in preparation for his 21st and division record-breaking title defense.
Joining Gennady on the call today will be his trainer, Abel Sanchez and his promoter, Tom Loeffler.
One note before we start, we’d like to invite you to participate in tomorrow’s Pay-Per-View Undercard conference call featuring Jaime Munguia, Brandon, “Bad Boy” Cook, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Moises “Moi” Fuentes. That call will begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, so you don’t want to miss that.
At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Tom Loeffler.
TOM LOEFFLER: Thank you, Fred. You know, we are just excited. The fight’s almost here. It’s the last week of training camp. Abel is up there in Big Bear Lake with GGG. They are finishing up their sparring this week.
We do have the Superfly 3 show this Saturday. It will be televised live HBO. Following the fights HBO will air a special edition of The Fight Game with Jim Lampley which will be all about the GGG – Canelo rematch, so everyone tune into HBO on September 8.
There’s been a lot of things said over the weekend which we can address that on this call, whether it’s the anthems or the gloves, we can touch on that briefly.
The GGG team had nothing to do with approving or disapproving Canelo’s gloves. That came directly from the Nevada Athletic State Athletic Commission.
And also, with the anthems; it was an agreement we had reached as part of the deal; that the anthems be played before the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast.
So there wasn’t any controversy, but controversy sells and we’d just like to address the issues as they come so with that, we can turn it over to start taking some questions.
Q. You must be anxious. How has camp been going and are you looking forward to next week?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Thank you very much. My training camp is great. I feel very good. My body, my speed, my power, everything is coming back, I feel like I am 25 years old. I needed the time, and now this is the last week [of training] for me.
Q. Gennady, are you afraid or worried that your fan base could turn on you, given some of the remarks you’ve made about Canelo building up to this fight, or are you just speaking your truth?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, first of all, I didn’t really say anything bad. I really said only one phrase and one sentence about that, and I never said anything personal, never offended him personally, and I don’t think that my fans will turn away from me because of what I said — what I had to say.
Q. You mentioned that you feel 25 years old, but I hate to tell you, you aren’t 25 years old. Do you train differently now that you’re ten years older, than you did when you were 25? Do you adapt any different techniques? And Abel, I’d like you to chime in on that, as well.
GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN: I feel great and I still train hard.
ABEL SANCHEZ: To answer that question, I do train everybody similarly. They work together in the strength and conditioning, but in the sparring, obviously we modify that as a fighter gets a little bit older, just so that we don’t leave things in the gym. But he still works as hard as he’s always worked. It’s just a matter of me making the schedule so that it’s best for him.
Q. I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of the comments from Abel, and from Canelo, where Abel has said Canelo ran in the fight and Canelo said, no, that was the game plan of how he wanted to fight.
Did you think that the way that he fought you last September constituted him running in the fight? What was your opinion of the style in which he fought against you?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: It was his fighting style earlier, not just in the September fight. Well, he was always — you know, he always has a way of running on the ring, but it was his style.
However, what happened on our last fight, he was really avoiding fighting close to me. I think that’s exactly what happened, but what he’s trying to say right now, it just proves that he’s not keeping his word. He’s trying to deceive people again, and being dishonest. But it doesn’t matter what he said. Let him say whatever he wants.
Q. This would be a record-breaking victory for you in terms of the middleweight title defense record. Could you express your perspective on what it would mean to you if you were to achieve the record of the most middleweight defenses in the history of boxing?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Absolutely. It’s very important for me to beat this record. Basically, it’s like two types of victory to beat Canelo and to beat the record. For me, it’s the most important goal at this point.
Q. Tom, if you could chime in on that, as far as your perspective as far as the possibility of seeing GGG take the record that he’s now tied with with Bernard Hopkins?
TOM LOEFFLER: I think when you put it in perspective, it would be a tremendous accomplishment if GGG is able to break Bernard’s record. Most people thought, you know, that was untouchable, 20 middleweight title defenses, and you know, as long as Gennady has been champion, he’s the longest-reigning champion right now in the sport of boxing [since 2010].
And regardless of what you say about both guys, this is the biggest event in the sport of boxing. They agreed to fight each other, and to be on this big of a stage, this platform, the biggest fight of boxing, and if he’s able to beat Canelo and break the record at the same time, as he said, this would be a huge accomplishment for him, all on the same night.
Q. Wondering if there’s any frustration or regret that this fight didn’t happen five years ago or six years ago when both fighters were a little bit younger. Can this still be the mega fight that everyone wants to see?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Quite possible. Quite possible. But not even five years ago, even two years ago, we couldn’t get them to fight us. They were avoiding the fight every way possible. If you remember, they even gave up one of the belts, the WBC belt, they gave it up, to avoid us.
ABEL SANCHEZ: As far as I’m concerned, no, there’s no regrets. I think that Canelo has grown in the last four or five years, a couple years ago when they gave up the belt, they knew they weren’t ready for this level of fight it’s happening now, and we look forward to this being one of the most memorable fights of the decade.
Q. Abel in your experience, in what age do a fighter’s skills typically decline? Are you still seeing growth and improve out of him?
ABEL SANCHEZ: I’m seeing slight growth, but I think it depends on the weight and the type of fights. You have a guy like Fernando Vargas, who was put in a lot of difficult fights early in his career, and by the time he was 26, he was finished.
And then you have guys like Bernard Hopkins fighting into his 40s and early 50s, so it depends on the kind of fight and how the fighter takes care of himself. Gennady, I haven’t seen anybody dominate him in the ring, not only in sparring but in the fights, and until then, then I can say I would judge a little age. But until that happens, it’s difficult to say he’s getting old.
Q. Where are you with the hand-stacking and the wrapping controversy, and where you guys might be with the Commission and Canelo’s side on that.
TOM LOEFFLER: We want to clarify everything ahead of time with the Nevada Commission so there are no fight week confrontations, especially no fight night confrontations, like we had last time.
We’ll say that the reason why Abel was so surprised by the wraps last time was that every other jurisdiction that GGG has fought in didn’t allow the stacking or the different layers of wrapping, and so that’s why Abel filed a protest, and it wasn’t received very well.
The inspector actually threatened to remove Abel from Canelo’s locker room because of that protest. But in the U.K., Canada and California, you know, all these different jurisdictions, and New York, where GGG’s fought, you know, they wouldn’t allow that.
So this time, we want to avoid any type of confrontations and want to get everything worked out between the GGG side, between the Canelo side and Golden Boy and Nevada Athletic Commission. Everything was amicable with the officials and we want to continue, whether it’s addressing the hand-wrapping, the gloves, any other pertinent information, weigh-in, anything like that. We just want the focus of this promotion to be on the fighters in the ring, not on any controversies outside the ring.
Q. Abel, you’re not going to change the way you wrap Gennady’s hand no matter what they say; right?
ABEL SANCHEZ: No, I don’t believe two wrongs make a right. If I take Gennady or any of my fighters to any jurisdiction where they don’t allow it, I don’t want them to have any kind of thoughts that they don’t have a cast on their hands in this particular jurisdiction, like they had in Nevada and they don’t feel as comfortable. So I want to keep it as much the same for every fight as possible.
Q. Does Gennady have an opinion or does it matter?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t seen how his hands were wrapped. I was fighting him not knowing how he was wrapped. It’s not up to me. It’s not up to me to make a judgment on that.
Q. In the most recent 24/7, Chepo Reynoso said that Gennady is like a donkey, and he does the same thing over and over again. Abel, what is your response to that?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Chepo Reynoso has never had an Olympian. Chepo Reynoso has never had a Silver Medalist. Chepo Reynoso has never had 18 world champions like I have had. Chepo Reynoso talks from Canelo. So when he gets to that level, maybe he can speak in an intelligent manner. But if you look at Gennady’s record, he’s beaten a lot of the champions during his reign; a lot of champions that are champions now he beat in the amateurs. So to hear somebody talk like that is ridiculous.
Q. Gennady, what did you think of that?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: What I want to say is I don’t want to go so low at the level of statements like that. It just shows a lack of class. It shows low class. It just shows a lack of upbringing, lack of intelligence. It just shows, again, how they behave themselves. I’m never able to say anything so low about anybody. So I just don’t want to comment about this anymore.
Q. Canelo has promised he’ll be more aggressive in this fight and fight Gennady more. Do you feel that because he said it — do you believe the emotion going into this fight, that he’ll fight more?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, it doesn’t matter what they say. We’ll see what happens on September 15 because very often what they say doesn’t correspond to what they do. So let’s wait until September 15.
Q. Abel, can you comment, as well?
ABEL SANCHEZ: We’re preparing for September 15. How he talked the first time, how he boasted, how Bernard boasted about being so great that he’s going to knock out Golovkin in the tenth round of the last fight and now what he’s saying about this fight.
I just hope that he’s true to his words. The fans are expecting the Canelo that they have seen in the past, not the Canelo they saw last year. I think that if he’s true to his word, that we’ll get the classic fight we were expecting the first time, two guys that want to win, not one guy that wants to win and the other guy that is looking to survive.
Q. Can you talk about what makes Abel a good trainer?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: You should ask the commission which recognizes him as the best coach in the world.
Q. Compared to the fighter that you were before you started working with Abel, how have you evolved as a fighter in the years that you have spent working with him?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: I haven’t really changed. Most importantly, I haven’t become worse. I haven’t changed for the worse.
I am is really thankful that Abel is not bringing in any illegal and banned substances into my fighting career and hasn’t taught me something which was not — which was not allowed in boxing, so I’m really thankful for him of being such a great coach.
Q. The judging, such as it was, all three judges had Canelo winning the first two rounds, and the last three, I believe, but what do you plan to do to change that in this fight?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, we will continue to implement our winning strategy in this fight, as well. As far as judges, we can’t influence the judges. We can only hope that the judges will be more fair, more adequate and more competent than the last time.
Q. Would you like to see a faster start, so to speak?
ABEL SANCHEZ: You know, Gennady is a fighter that is undefeated right now and he’s got a stain [the draw against Canelo] on his record because of some bad judging, but he has a style that he has been very successful with.
That fight is a 12-round fight, not a two-round fight or a four-round fight. So what we do at the beginning of the fight will be dictated by what Gennady sees.
It’s not a matter of being able to predict what can happen; if Canelo starts of like he did in the middle of last fight, the same way in this fight, it will be difficult to chase him down and make an impact on the judges.
But like Gennady said, hopefully the judges will be as fair as possible. I think we have a great panel of judges this time. And the fight will develop. It’s a 12-round fight, not a four-round fight.
Q. The magnitude and the kind of eyeballs that are going to be on it, how much is this a showcase of what’s going on in the sport, other than what’s happening in the heavyweight division.
TOM LOEFFLER: Both GGG and Canelo, they have tremendous fan bases. This event, just like last September, when they get together, it really transcends boxing and a World Championship fight.
It really becomes an international sporting event, almost like a World Cup soccer match where you have flags and you have the fans chanting, just a similar emotion and energy in the arena, and we expect it to be at an even higher level now, with all the controversy that happened in the scoring in the first fight, and, you know, the delay, the cancellation of the Cinco de Mayo fight, I think it’s going to hit an even higher pitch with the rematch September 15.
So again, whatever controversy there is between the two sides, you have to give them credit that they are getting into the ring. A lot of people talk about fighting each other. This is the second time that GGG and Canelo fought each other in 12 months and that’s what makes it the biggest fight in the sport of boxing this year, because their fan bases, the international level, we have GGG fans coming in from all over the world for this fight.
And I think we’re going to break the level that was set last year for ticket sales, and the Pay-Per-View is also on track to be significantly higher than last year. So I think we’ll see an even bigger event this time in September.
Q. Abel, what’s it been like for you to see the growth in Gennady’s popularity from what it was five years ago or whatever, just to see how many fans he’s made throughout the world?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Well, from the beginning, when I first started working with him eight years ago, I sensed that there was something special about this young man, and he’s proven me right, at least to me, anyway.
It’s like one of my children doing well. All my fighters in my gym are like a family to all of us, to each other, so to see one of our kids succeed in the manner that he’s succeeding, and to have had the adulation of the fans, worldwide, and especially the Latin fans for his Mexican Style of fighting and his style of entertaining. It’s an honor to be included in the same ring and in the same sentence with Gennady Golovkin.
Q. The fan bases of the respective fighters, based on my research, I know for a fact that Canelo has lost a few fans from the first fight. From the way he ran around to the dirty tests to his reaction to the dirty tests. I’m wondering, in your opinion, more than ever, is Canelo’s reputation on the line in this second fight? In other words, if he goes in there and runs around and doesn’t fight Gennady more, is he destined to lose even more of his fans than he already has?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Well, I think he has a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of a lot of fans. Just because he’s losing fans, Gennady’s gaining them and other fighters are gaining them. but as long as fans continue to watch our sport and continue to support us, Gennady will do his part, Canelo will do his part what he needs to do, and if maybe in the future, Canelo will be an afterthought if he doesn’t redeem himself in the way that the fans want him to redeem himself.
He’s got a duty in this fight, not only to himself but to his people, to prove what he was telling all of us was true, and if he does, I think that he’ll be celebrated. Win, lose or draw, he’ll be celebrated because of his approach to this fight.
Q. The result for September 15, do you see any chance to fight the match with
Canelo Alvarez, because the opinion that you have right now from Canelo — guarantee a match with him —
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, what I’ve always really wanted to do, I want to punish him. I want to have a fight and punish him for all the bad things that he and his team have done, so basically to put them — to size him down and to put him and his team in their place.
Q. How important is this fight for the sport of boxing, and how important is it for Kazakhstan?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: It is very, very important for Kazakhstan and for Kazakhstan fans, because we are champions right now. We are on the right side. We are not dirty and we will defend our honor and defend our title.
Q. Just wondering, have you ever faced or fought anybody that you have disliked so much as you seem to dislike Canelo, and if so, how does that change your training in terms of controlling your anger at him?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: First of all, I have to say, that I always do my 100 percent, and very seriously approach any training processes, always do my best.
As far as Canelo’s team, you can see they continue to speak this nonsense and discredit themselves. So I have nothing to say about that anymore.
Q. Does it affect his training, the anger at all? Can you answer that, Abel? Do you notice a difference in his training because he’s angry at Canelo? He just said he wanted to punish him.
ABEL SANCHEZ: No, he’s not angry. He’s not angry. He’s got a purpose in the gym and he’s got a purpose for what he wants to do inside the ring.
Canelo has done some things that Gennady feels he needs to pay for and he’ll do that in the ring. In the gym, it’s just another day of training . He’s the same guy that he was before. He trains hard. Just his mentality to this fight seems to be very, very focused on trying to punish Canelo — as he was when he fought Curtis Stevens —
Q. This one just seems to have been going on and on and on, so it’s —
ABEL SANCHEZ: The reason it’s going on is because they keep accusing us of insulting them, and all we’re doing is telling the truth. All we’re doing is telling you what is happening as we see it, as it’s being reported, so he’s the one that tested positive, he’s the one that the consequences for what happened on May the 5th and who we had to fight and what was done, he’s the one that created that. It wasn’t us. And to continue to sweep it under the rug and to continue to not acknowledge the fact that you have screwed up is why this keeps going.
Q. Obviously Bernard Hopkins’ name has been mentioned because Gennady is going to try to break the record, but Bernard Hopkins played a lot of mind games with his opponent — made them fight a little crazy and maybe not to their benefit, most notably in the fight on September 29, 2001 against Felix Trinidad — could a little bit of it be something to get into their heads and maybe make them a little bit crazy, too, and so Canelo — the kind of fight that you guys want him to fight?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Really I don’t think right now about Bernard Hopkins. I’m thinking about my fight with Canelo, and as far as all the other association, we can talk about this after September 15.
Q. Abel, same thing. Could some of this be a strategy maybe to make the other side a little bit crazy? Apparently it’s a two-way thing, going back and forth.
ABEL SANCHEZ: You know, in this gym, and amongst us here, I think I can include Tom in this, we have a lot of respect for Bernard Hopkins, and we have a lot of respect for what he’s done and what he’s done in boxing and we have a lot of respect for breaking the record. But to break the record and use a page out of his own book would be something even better.
If it’s getting to Canelo, then I guess we’ve accomplished what everybody thinks we’re trying to do. We were not trying to do that. We were just talking about the facts.
Q. You know what’s on the line in terms of the title defense record, but what does this mean to you on a personal level, considering everything that has gone on with Canelo in the last year? What does this fight mean to you just on that personal level?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: For me personally, although this fight happened at a later stage of my career, this is a most interesting fight. This is a most interesting fight because we have an interesting opponent because we have an interesting situation, and it’s a most important fight in my life right now, and also it’s the most important fight for boxing sport right now.
Q. Considering all the harsh words that have been said up in the lead up, when it’s all said and done, however the fight goes, if one of you guys win by knockout, will you go over there and will you shake his hand?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Well, nobody knows how it’s going to end, what’s going to be the result. But nobody is going to congratulate anybody, that’s for sure.
Q. Do you feel this fight is for your legacy? The title defense record, it’s an amazing achievement, but do you feel that — take that aside. Do you feel come September 15, you’re going to be fighting — you’re going to be fighting for your legacy?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: Of course, everybody understands that. Everybody who is honest understands that’s a part of the legacy — of my legacy in boxing. Those honest people recognize it. Those who are dishonest, they try to forget about this.
Q. Abel, what improvements have you seen from Gennady leading into the fight last year and heading into the rematch next weekend?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Well, I think at this level, maturity and amount of fights; the improvements are minimal. The improvements are a lot of times more mental than they are physical, but how you approach a fight mentally, it’s just as important as the little improvements that we had.
I had a fighter back about 25 years ago, Orlin Norris fought Arthur Williams, first time he looked lackluster; and in the second bout, he knocked his opponent out in the fourth round, and the way he went into the second fight was much much better than the first one mentally.
I think when you get to this level and when you get to this stage in their careers, it’s hoping that everything goes right in the gym, hoping that there’s no controversy and hoping that everything is 100 percent in the training camp, and you go into a fight with a different mode. He goes into a fight that, as he said, he wants to punish Canelo and he has a thought in his mind what he want to do to him. We train hard and we prepare just like we did for the first one, but the mental aspect of it is the most important at this stage in my opinion.
Q. Tom, the first fight sold out rather quickly, and I was looking at the press release you sent out this morning and there’s tickets still on sale. Why do you feel the rematch hasn’t sold out yet, compared to how quickly it sold out the first time around?
TOM LOEFFLER: I think some of it had to do with a lot of fans being disappointed with the Cinco de Mayo fight being canceled. A lot of fans made flight reservations, hotel reservations, and then they were bitterly disappointed.
Naturally that wasn’t because it was Gennady’s fault, but you know, when you go through that expense, I think a lot are waiting until the final couple weeks to actually make the reservations.
As I mentioned before, this fight has a big international fan base coming in. Ultimately, we’re still on track to exceed the revenue that we did in the last fight.
You know, going back to that previous question that Abel had answered as far as Gennady’s legacy, you know, this is a huge fight for Gennady, the biggest fight in boxing this year, but there’s a lot of names in the past that we would have liked to have gotten in the ring who just simply, for whatever reason, chose not to fight Gennady, whether it was Felix Sturm, whether it was Sergio Martinez, whether it was Peter Quillin at the time; it was just the six-year anniversary of GGG’s HBO debut, September 1, 2012.
There was an article on ESPN that listed all these middleweight names, and it had Gennady having this big impact on HBO. Just look at his ratings on HBO. That’s where we’re at right now. He’s kind of have that blue-collar career: He’s willing to fight everywhere, New York, L.A., London, Monte Carlo, Panama, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and now, he’s at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against Canelo Alvarez in the biggest fight in boxing.
This is definitely a legacy fight for him, and you know, I think we’ll see the best fighting the best, and that’s really what the sport is all about, and that’s what Gennady’s always wanted. He’s wanted that challenge to fight the best in the division.
Q. Around how many tickets have been sold thus far?
TOM LOEFFLER: You know, I was going to go over that with Golden Boy today, to go over what is remaining. We’re just about ten days out from the fight, but there really aren’t that many that are remaining.
So between the commitments of sponsors and pre-ordered tickets, there are still some tickets available, but you know, after today, we’ll have a better answer for that, and especially going into fight week.
THE MODERATOR: With that, we’ll wrap up the call. Gennady has to get ready for his afternoon session. Thank you for joining us today.
Tom, any last comments?
TOM LOEFFLER: I think we’ve covered everything on this call. We’re all excited about the last week of training camp. GGG arrives into Las Vegas on Monday. We have the grand arrival on Tuesday at MGM Grand. We have the Superfly 3 show this Saturday at the Forum and Jim Lampley’s Fight Game special on HBO talking about GGG fighting Canelo. We’re all looking forward to September 15.
THE MODERATOR: Abel, any last comments from you?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Thank you for everybody’s participation. Thank you for the support. We’re looking forward to a great fight. We’ll see you guys on fight week, and make sure that we put on a great fight.
THE MODERATOR: Gennady, I know you’re getting ready for the Big Drama Show. Any last comments?
GENNADY ‘GGG’ GOLOVKIN: I just want to say thank you very much for everybody. I will see you September 15 in Las Vegas.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. We’ll see you next week in Las Vegas.