Caught this article during my first class. Nice exposure for Triple G.
Golovkin hopes to prove his place among middleweight elite
By Bob Velin, USA TODAY
The name will ring a bell for only the most plugged-in U.S. boxing fans.
But you might want to remember this one: Gennady Golovkin, pronounced with a hard G.
You might have figured he's Russian, but he's from Kazakhstan and now lives in Germany. He won a silver medal for Kazakhstan in the Athens Olympics.
You're probably unaware of his devastating power in both hands or that he has knocked out 20 of the 23 fighters he's beaten without a loss. Or that he has defeated such successful pros as Lucien Bute, Andre Dirrell and Andy Lee as an amateur, and has gone beyond three rounds once since 2009.
And you probably have no clue that Golovkin is the WBA and IBO middleweight champion and fights for the first time in the USA on Saturday in an out-of-the-way casino in the middle of New York state.
HBO is betting that the amiable, 30-year-old Golovkin, who is seldom seen outside the ring without a smile, will become a global star. The USA's No. 1 boxing network will introduce Golovkin to American audiences when he puts his titles on the line against Grzegorz Proksa (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET) at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y.
Golovkin and his promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2, realize making it in the USA is crucial. They also understand that if Golovkin wants to get anywhere here, he needs to speak English.
"He knows in order to become a marketable fighter, if he's fighting in the U.S. and the boxing fans cannot understand him or if he needs a translator, it takes away a lot of his marketability," Loeffler says. "And Gennady is such a likeable guy that when he expresses himself, it translates well in terms of his boxing fans."
Taking a cue from K2's biggest clients, heavyweights Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who speak five languages, Golovkin is learning his third language (he also speaks German) quickly and already does his interviews in English without an interpreter. He practices the language diligently every day, he says.
"I like this country," said Golovkin, who is in New York this week, appearing at a Yankees game and at Madison Square Garden, the boxing mecca where he's always longed to fight. "Now I'm happy. My first fight on HBO, it's my dream."
Loeffler knows what being on HBO can lead to.
"The exciting thing about this fight, it's really been the goal for Gennady and our promise when we signed him to get him the exposure he wants here in the U.S.," Loeffler says. "He realizes that once he's popular here, it translates to worldwide recognition," Loeffler said.
The most exciting aspect of Golovkin's game is his power, his potential to drop an opponent with one punch. Training in the mountains in Big Bear, Calif., he has resorted to sparring with light heavyweights and cruiserweights because, his trainer Abel Sanchez said, "honestly, the middleweights can't hang in here."
That's a testament to Golovkin's raw power, that's he's beating up sparring partners his size.
But Sanchez, who has trained some top fighters over the last two decades, says there is much more to Golovkin than power.
"He's developing into a complete fighter … the kind of fighter all of us coaches look for," Sanchez said. "When he first came to me, the power was the one plus I had going for me. Everything else we could work on. And he's listened well in the past three years. He's done everything I've asked him to do and I think right now we have a budding superstar. We're just starting to scratch the surface on what he can do."
Despite his power, Golovkin does not go into a fight looking for a quick KO, yet almost always gets there. Patience and calmness set him apart, Sanchez says.
"He's lethal with either hand but he's patient. He's going to wait for that mistake," Sanchez says. "He's beginning to understand what it means to set somebody up and trap them. And his serenity and patience in waiting for that moment without looking like he's not working is probably one of his biggest assets in the ring."
Golovkin was originally scheduled to fight undefeated Russian Dmitry Pirog, but a bad back forced Pirog out. Proksa (28-1, 21 KOs), a Pole living in the U.K. and another fighter little known in the U.S., replaced him. Sanchez says it's not easy getting opponents for his fighter.
"I never see anyone calling out Golovkin," Sanchez said. "It's not that they're avoiding him, it's just they don't want to talk about him. You ask a top-notch middleweight and they change the subject.
"But I think looking and performing great on (Saturday) is going to go a long ways toward being able to get someone credible in the ring with him — not that I don't think Proksa is credible."
Is Golovkin ready for the world's best middleweights, such as champions Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who will meet Sept. 15 in Las Vegas, or Germany's Felix Sturm, who puts his titles on the line Saturday night as well, against Daniel Geale?
"Absolutely," Sanchez said. "We've sparred with Chavez, and we've sparred with Canelo (Alvarez). There's video where (Golovkin) sparred with Chavez at (Freddie Roach's) Wild Card Gym and toyed with him at 60-70%. The problem is going to be for (those fighters) to accept.
"(Saturday) is very important for us to show he belongs at that level."