For nearly all of his career, middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has exuded a quiet confidence. He was good, and he knew it, but he never explicitly would say it.
He never demeaned opponents. He would never make wild boasts.
But as his biggest fight nears, a Sept. 16 match at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin has taken a broadside against Alvarez, the fighter he repeatedly referred to in the past as “a good boy.”
The “good boy” line was more Golovkin’s difficulty with English – he was trying to say Alvarez is a nice guy – but it became popular with the public that watched him regularly on HBO the last five years, and he saw the value in repeating it.
Golovkin snuck past Daniel Jacobs in New York on March 18, and then Alvarez routed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6, setting up the mega-fight between them.
Several times after the Jacobs fight, Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez insisted Golovkin didn’t fight his hardest against Jacobs because if he had, Alvarez wouldn’t have taken the fight with him. Golovkin had been silent on that issue until now.
Eight days before the bout, he let Alvarez have it.
“I am not Julio Cesar Chevez Jr. and Canelo is no Danny Jacobs,” Golovkin said. “There are no survivors in my fight. Boxing is a business. If I look great against Jacobs, if I knocked him out, I would not be getting this fight with Canelo now. Jacobs was a very good fighter and gave me good learning experience going 12 rounds. I had never done that before. I felt amazing going 12 rounds for the first time. Jacobs gives everyone problems.”
Sanchez doubled down on his previous comments. He insisted that Golovkin had more to give against Jacobs and made a calculated decision to hold back somewhat.
Coming eight days before the event and with virtually no news coming out of the Alvarez camp other than De La Hoya talking about UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, the words from Golovkin and Sanchez could just be a ploy to get the conversation started about their fight.
But boxing is that unique sport in which fighters have to back up their words. In this case, Golovkin is also going to have to stand by his trainer’s words.
“Danny Jacobs is the second-best middleweight in boxing,” Sanchez said. “It was a tough fight because the two best in the middleweight division were fighting each other. The matchup was as good in the ring as it was on paper. Jacobs also gamed the system by skipping the IBF’s mandatory fight-day weigh-in where the fighters are only allowed to gain 10 pounds from the previous day’s official weigh-in. Gennady, as defending champion, honored the IBF’s rule and weighed-in the next morning. Who knows how heavy Jacobs was the night of the fight? But even with that advantage, Gennady was able to win. Jacobs was easily one weight division heavier than Gennady.
“Not getting the knockout may have been a double blessing for us. It showed that Gennady was capable of going 12 rounds with an elite fighter and it gave us the fight with Canelo. If Gennady had knocked Jacobs out, there is no way Golden Boy would have the confidence to put Canelo in with us this year. Now let’s look at Canelo’s last fight. Chavez hasn’t fought under 167 pounds in five years. He was drained and barely threw a punch. If that same Chavez fights Gennady, there is no question Gennady knocks him out. Chavez was a sitting duck. There is no debate on who had the better win against the better opponent. Watching Canelo’s performance against Chavez gave us a lot of confidence, too.”
Shots are fired. Alvarez arrives in Las Vegas on Tuesday for the start of fight-week activities. Presumably, he’ll have a response ready then.