Gennady Golovkin / Abel Sanchez Interview

ABEL SANCHEZ: Good morning, everybody. We are extremely happy to be part of this epic event. I think it’s about time that promoters and managers and fighters put their records on the line, put their belt on the line, and the best fight the best, and I’m glad that Tom is the kind of promoter for Gennady that’s going to endorse everybody and Oscar being the same way, so we’re finally going to see a fight that the fans have been waiting to see, the kind of fight that the fans have been waiting to see.

We are looking forward to the 17th. I know Marc is going to have David very ready; Gennady is going to be ready, and like Oscar said, it’s going to be “bombs away.” So we are looking forward to an explosive fight, for as long as it lasts.

TOM LOEFFLER: With that, I would like to bring on the phone the WBA/IBO and WBC “Interim” Middleweight Champion, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.

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GENNADY GOLOVKIN: Good morning, everybody. I have great strength, and I feel good. I’m ready for October 17th. I think we are ready for a good event. Good show, good event, you know, not just one fight.. Thank to you my coach, Abel Sanchez and thank you to my team, K2 Promotions. This is a big deal. This is a big thing for us, for boxing fans, for people and for our sport of boxing. Thank you.

Q. Good day everybody. I’ve got a question, I think probably primarily for Abel. We are talking about a very offensive, aggressive fight, but what kind of defensive instruction have you given to Gennady or have you worked on defense for this fight?

ABEL SANCHEZ: I think it’s important to point out that the HBO CompuBox system, Gennady is the third-best defensive fighter with 10 or more fights. Ward, Canelo a lot of those guys are behind him, so when it comes to defense, I think he is pretty adept at it. We have worked on all of the aspects of training, just because we have a force in front of us. We have David Lemieux, who is a strong puncher and an aggressive kind of fighter, come forward, so we work on all aspects of it, to make sure that we are ready for whatever David brings.

Q. Would you like to see Gennady recognized a little more for that defensive skill? I think that ranking would surprise a lot of fans.

ABEL SANCHEZ: No, it doesn’t really matter to me if he’s recognized for it or not, as long as the fans enjoy his style of fighting. I think this fight has done so well at the box office and his numbers on HBO have done well, hopefully the Pay-Per-View does well because of that, because of his style because of his aggressive style and David’s also. That’s what the fans want to see. The fans want to go back to those days, those yesterdays of great fights, where the guys just, with intelligence and with defensive skills fight great fights and they sit in the middle of the ring and go at each other. I think that’s what this fight is going to represent, and that’s what’s going to happen.

Q. Gennady, as Abel was talking about, we know that your defense is maybe a little bit underrated. We all know about your great knockout streak and your offense. David Lemieux is also known for having offense. I would like to know from Gennady, does he think more about the power that Lemieux has or the fact that he has been knocked out in the past and therefore he thinks it will be a big difference of him able to get to Lemieux’s chin. In other words, is there one thing he’s more interested in, protecting his own chin from his punching power or looking to go get him because he’s shown the fact that he hasn’t been able to maybe take the best punch previously. I would like Gennady’s thoughts about that.

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GENNADY GOLOVKIN: No, you’re right, same power, same defense, same style, yeah, you’re right. I think different style of boxing class, and boxing IQ.

Q. Will you be able to take his punch better than he will be able to take your punch?

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: Yeah, I think we both have great punch. David is strong, too. I know my power, so it’s not just power, just a little bit different class, you know, boxing class, timing, speed, discipline, and this is very important for us.

Q. Abel, could you weigh in on that?

ABEL SANCHEZ: What he’s trying to say is I think he is the fighter in the fight. They both have power and speed and great knockout records but the IQ, the boxing IQ will be the difference, because I think he thinks that it’s a different class, as far as that part of it, and he will be able to get to David, because he will figure him out, but David can punch so it’s not like it’s going to be an easy fight. So both of them have punching power, but the IQ is higher in the sense of boxing wise.

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Q. Understood. Gennady, one of the reasons why there have been some bigger-named fighters who haven’t really been interested to fight you at this point, they say, yeah, Gennady, he’s not that well known, he doesn’t bring a lot to the table, and I look at the way this promotion is going the expectations for this fight, the way that your television ratings have been on HBO, and then I see you in this major commercial on TV with the Apple Watch. Seems to me people can’t say Gennady Golovkin doesn’t bring anything to the table anymore. Can you address that? You seem to have crossed over to a certain degree where now it will become worth while for people to fight you because there will be riches involved in that.

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: You know, I am a boxer. You know, thanks to my promoter. I know David is a champion too. This is a big deal for us. This is my first Pay-Per-View.

Q. Tom, could you address that, people can’t run from him because there is no money?

TOM LOEFFLER: Dan, I think that excuse was not valid anymore over a year ago, I mean, when Gennady sold out the Stub Hub Center, when he had over 12,000 people at The Forum. People used that excuse in the past of a reason why it didn’t make sense to fight Gennady, but you see with this promotion and with the dance partner, with Gennady having a marketable opponent with him, who is another champion, I mean, that brings this to a whole different level, and that’s what we’ve always said is the marketability for Gennady, and you touched on the Apple commercial campaign that we did with Gennady that debuted on Monday Night Football, and we got a tremendous reaction. He’s just a marketable fighter and a likeable fighter, and David Lemieux is also very marketable, very popular as a champion as well, so it’s just the chemistry of the promotion and the two champions fighting each other that’s taken this to a completely different level.

Q. Tom, one thing very quickly, by the way. I certainly know who Gennady is, and boxing fans and other boxing writers know who Gennady is but they didn’t identify him in the commercial. Any particular reason for that? There might be some people who don’t know him; they saw it but they’re not sure who it is.

TOM LOEFFLER: They’ve done five or six different spots with different people in different segments so they haven’t — they didn’t distinguish the people, the individuals on the commercial campaign, but they definitely have on the Apple web site. They have identified who is in each segment. That’s how they’ve identified the people.

Q. Abel, everybody improves as they go along, and I understand that. In 2011 Lemieux lost to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine Just how dangerous is David Lemieux? I know he’s got a lot of knockouts, but as Evander Holyfield once told me, “It’s not how much knockouts you have, it’s who you’ve been knocking out.” In your mind, when you look at his ring record, just how impressed are you?

ABEL SANCHEZ: First off, going back to the Rubio fight, I think he was a young man of 22 or 23 years old who everybody was laying riches in front of him, I believe before that fight, they had an HBO special on him. They were touting him as the next big thing at 22 years old. I believe he was a little too young, he fought a guy who was very experienced. Marco Rubio took all he had to throw for the first six rounds, and then tired him out and was able to put him away. That was inexperience on David’s part.

The skills are still there, the punching power is still there, it’s just inexperience that made him lose that fight, in my opinion. Then Marc Ramsey comes in after those two losses, and now they’re on a roll. They are on a roll because Marc has taken over now, not only physically but mentally over David’s boxing program, so it’s easy for David now to just listen to somebody instead of being the boss and doing things his way, now he’s got a guy that’s running the show for him.

He’s fought in the last three or four fights he’s fought some I think pretty good fighters, the last fighter, N’Dam. N’Dam was a World Champion, went down a couple of times I guess, but he’s a very difficult guy to fight. He beat Curtis Stevens, I witnessed that, down in Santa Monica so he’s not a bad fighter.

So David has got — I’m not going to say an extensive resume, but he’s got fighters on his record that have done something, and the thing you can’t take away from David is he can punch. He proved that in the last three or four fights, he can punch, so that’s something that on the 17th, it could go either way. If David lands a good punch and Gennady is not ready, maybe Gennady goes down, so we’re definitely looking for the best David Lemieux and the biggest punch.

Q. Guys, my question is for Tom. Tom, regarding Gennady’s first Pay-Per-View, what would you consider to be a success?

TOM LOEFFLER: You know, Bob, we’re always conservative with our estimates. HBO was very supportive of the event. They wouldn’t have green lit or supported the event if they didn’t think it was going to be successful. When we made the deal with Golden Boy, it was a fair deal as far as the structure of the promotion, and I think as the promotion has gone along, a great indicator for Pay-Per-View sales is ticket sales, and when this event broke the presale record of any boxing event that MSG has had and sold 15,000 tickets within the first week, that’s a huge indication that the Pay-Per-View is going to be successful, but I’m always conservative on the estimates, and I’m very optimistic on the results for the Pay-Per-View.

Q. Do you feel, and this is piggy-backing on Dan’s question, but do you feel that Gennady is well known enough around the country to attract people? Because Lemieux — David Lemieux is a Canadian, he’s well known to boxing fans, but is he well enough known that people are going to say, I have to see this fight?

TOM LOEFFLER: I think it’s more so than the individuals but the combination of the two champions fighting each other. Gennady is breaking through where he’s going into the mainstream. We brought him to different entertainment events and a lot of the entertainers said he’s their favorite fighter, so he’s definitely crossing over. When you have a match-up against a guy like David Lemieux — look if this was somebody that wasn’t known or two fighters that weren’t known in the main event, we wouldn’t have sold 15,000 tickets in the first week, so I understand what you’re saying as far as you need a broader scale, broader base for the Pay-Per-View, and it’s a risk that we took.

When we sat down with Oscar and his team at Golden Boy, neither fighter has been on the Pay-Per-View, also with Chocolatito and Viloria, same situation, but when you put that combination together it’s a great value for the fans and for the event and I think the boxing fans will really respond to this event.

Q. And having Chocolatito on the card also increases your Hispanic viewership, I would think.

TOM LOEFFLER: No question. It’s a perfect combination having Chocolatito against Brian Viloria. Brian Viloria is very popular, he was on the 2000 Olympic Team for the United States and brings a strong Filipino following with him, and Chocolatito’s Hispanic following, so it’s a great one-two punch, and that’s really where our optimism is as far as the success of the event.

Q. Abel, Gennady recently said you have been working on his “Mexican” style. Can you elaborate what that means to be fighting a “Mexican” style?

ABEL SANCHEZ: The Mexican style that we’re trying to develop with him, we have been trying to develop with him is just a more of an entertaining style, a style that is reminiscent of fighters in the past, Duran, Gomez, Sanchez, Chavez and even Oscar’s fights of 20 years ago, or 15 years ago, where guys stood in the middle of the ring and went at each other and used their legs and gave the fans the kind of fight that they deserve for the money that they’re paying.

So to answer that question a little easier, it’s more of an entertaining, aggressive, American public type of fight.

Q. And how would you say Gennady has progressed in adopting this Mexican style in the past few fights?

ABEL SANCHEZ: I think he’s done well, I think this is the fight that finally presents a challenge to him mentally. I’ve always said in the past great fighters, it’s not so much the physical challenge but the mental challenge, that it’s important to them, and in this training camp he has proven me right by the attitude and the atmosphere in the gym has been so much different because he does perceive a challenge and perceive a fighter that is as strong as he is and punches as long as he does, and for as long as the fight goes he will have to be on his P’s and Q’s as, just like David will, and the guy that lands the first big punch, the other guy is going to sleep.

Q. I hate to bring up André Ward’s name, but do you believe a lot of fighters are starting to use Gennady Golovkin’s name to get recognition for themselves? The seem like they are calling him out saying he is ducking fighters or he’s not as good of a pound-for-pound fighter, but they always seem to have his name in their mouth.

ABEL SANCHEZ: I think it’s history. I think every young fighter is calling out the older fighter, and when the older fighter gets it, the young fighter is calling him out. At one point when Gennady was beginning, of course we were mentioning other names that were above us, but that’s just the nature of the beast. That’s something that has to be done so that your name is in print, but at this point it’s okay for André to call his name out, but André needs to fright. André needs to fight to be relevant. André needs to fight so the people tonight don’t forget who he is. Just because he won six, four years ago and has fought two times in the last three years, against nondescript opponents doesn’t make him qualified for those kind of fights, so I think when he starts fighting and becomes relevant, I’m sure that fight is down the road, but until then doesn’t make any sense to us.

Q. Gennady, there have been terms through this promotion and this conference call about breaking through, being more entertaining with a “Mexican” style, this fight finally presenting a challenge. There is a couple of other significant middleweight fights coming up in the near future with Quinlan/Jacobs, and Alvarez/Cotto. Do you see this as a break-through fight for you, and where do you see yourself in a year’s time with these two significant fights on the horizon as well?

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: You know, right now I’m going to focus on David Lemieux because he is good fighter. He’s champion. The future, yes, of course, but now the middleweight division it’s a good situation, very interesting situation, three or four fighters, Alvarez, Miguel Cotto and Andy Lee, I want unification title. My goal is always about middleweight division; my focus is on that weight division. Why not?

Jacobs is very good, too, not just for us for middleweight division. Great three or four fights in the future.

Q. At the age of 33, certainly not to say you’re old but is there any acceleration or rush to do — get these fights made sooner than later?

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: That’s promoters. I feel great, I feel like I’m 20. Look at Bernard Hopkins; he’s 50. He’s like 30 he is like a young guy, very smart guy.

Q. He’s also an alien, but —

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: (Away from mic.) Yeah.

Q. My question is about the stakes for the fight. The fight stands on its merit quite well, but there are big stakes down the line. This question is for Oscar if he is still on the call, and Tom, have you guys made an agreement in principle to have the winner of this fight, fight the winner of Cotto and Canelo?

TOM LOEFFLER: I can go first on that, Michael. As you mentioned, there is a lot at stake, not only the winner having unified the titles, but then also is in the position of being the mandatory for the winner of Cotto/Canelo, which is also a great fight a month later. So it’s exciting times, as Gennady alluded to in the Middleweight Division.

It would be premature to start having any discussions with Oscar because we don’t know who is going to win on October 17th, and we don’t know who is going to win November 21st, but after all that shakes out, it’s going to be great times moving forward and just continuing the path of trying to unify the titles.

Q. Oscar your thoughts?

OSCAR DE LA HOYA: Yes, it would be premature to talk about such a match-up. October 17th is such an important fight for “GGG” and David Lemieux and November 21st is an important and dangerous fight for Canelo and Cotto, so we don’t know what the outcome will be and we don’t know what’s going to happen so it would be very premature to even discuss it.

But it’s definitely — it’s definitely, you know, something to look forward to.

BERNIE BAHRMASEL: That would wrap up our end of the call. Tom, Gennady, if you have closing comments?

GENNADY GOLOVKIN: Thank you so much, everybody. Don’t miss my fight October 17th, it will be a great show for people. Thank you so much.

BERNIE BAHRMASEL: Abel, just a couple days before leaving for New York City, how are things going up there?

ABEL SANCHEZ: Things are going great, wrapping up the training camp, it’s becoming that event that we all had hoped it would be and we’re looking forward to the 17th, putting on a great show in front of a sold-out crowd.

BERNIE BAHRMASEL: Thanks Abel and Gennady for joining us. Tom, go ahead with your closing comments.

TOM LOEFFLER: Just to emphasize two champions in the ring, Gennady has a great dance partner with David Lemieux, that’s what is going to create fireworks in the ring. On the promotional side, I have a great partner with Oscar and Golden Boy Productions, and they’ve been very support with the whole promotion, and I think all the fans and all the media are going to be in for a great event October 17th.

BERNIE BAHRMASEL: Thanks, Tom. We will turn the call over to Cecilia to introduce David Lemieux’s side. Cecilia.

CECILIA ZUNIGA: I want to thank all the media members for joining us today. Now for the second portion of the call and to introduce Team Lemieux, I would like to reintroduce Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

OSCAR DE LA HOYA: Thank you, very much, Cecilia. As all the media has heard about the details of this terrific event, let me go ahead and introduce to you Team Lemieux. First off, I am pleased to introduce to you Camielle Estephan, President of Eye of the Tiger Management and manager of David Lemieux. Camielle?

CAMILLE ESTEPHAN: Thank you, Oscar, looking forward to a wonderful event. Everything has been said; there isn’t too much more to say. I will give you a little bit of our perspective as we head into this with ten days left. We have the top-two middleweights in the world fighting each other. This is a real treat. It’s a real treat for the fans, a breath of fresh air for boxing.

This will be like two Titans fighting each other, two major mountains. Imagine Everest versus Kilimanjaro, I’m excited. The pleasantries are finished, now it’s time for the action. We are coming to New York to meet Golovkin and take the belts; that’s the goal, and the only goal. We have done our homework very, very well. We feel extremely confident because of the work we have put in, and the stage is set.

There are ten days to go, can’t wait for the 17th, MSG is going to be rocking!