By Robert Morales
Abel Sanchez had been worried that the WBA would make his fighter - middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin - fight his mandatory defense against unknown Jarrod Fletcher of Australia on July 26 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Alas, the WBA this week agreed to let Golovkin, who also holds the IBO crown, to bypass Fletcher so he can take on a more formidable opponent in former champion Daniel Geale, also of Australia, on that card that will be televised by HBO.
Sanchez, who trains the hard-hitting Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) out of his sprawling camp in Big Bear, Calif., is stoked about the way things turned out.
"Well, extremely happy," Sanchez said Wednesday via telephone. "I get the motivation out of Gennady."
Golovkin had little interest in facing Fletcher, Sanchez said.
"When they were talking about the other young man who is not quite ready - he may be one of these days, but now he's not - Gennady wasn't as motivated, wasn't as positive just about wanting to fight him," Sanchez said. "He wants physical fights, he wants hard fights, he wants guys that are respected by the public so that he could prove his mettle.
"So he's extremely happy, and I'm extremely happy."
Geale, 33, is 30-2 with 16 knockouts. He lost his middleweight title to Darren Barker via split-decision in his fifth defense in August in Atlantic City. Sanchez expects a fast-paced fight.
"Oh, punch output," Sanchez said, when asked to assess Geale. "I think he's a busy guy, throws a lot of punches. He's not the biggest puncher in the world, but throws a lot of combinations. He's obviously had championship experience, he's an ex-world champion. I know that anybody who fights Gennady now understands what they're getting into, so I know he's going to be in the best shape of his life.
"I expect an action-packed fight. Whether Gennady is able to put him out or not, who knows?"
Sanchez: Schaefer leaving Golden Boy could be good
When Richard Schaefer this week resigned his post as CEO of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, it meant there is a good chance Golden Boy and Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. will likely begin doing fights together again.
With Schaefer still in the fold, that would have been difficult because Schaefer and Arum really dislike each other and neither wants to work with the other. That was kind of Sanchez's initial thought when he heard about Schaefer's departure.
"The immediate reaction would be that at least maybe now we're going to get some of the better fighters fighting the better fighters," Sanchez said. "It's unfortunate that they had their differences, it's unfortunate they're having to break up and having to disrupt their good continuity that they had. It may take Golden Boy a couple of months to get back into the swing of things as far as fights are concerned."
Sanchez admitted he was both bummed, and glad, about Schaefer's exit.
"Saddened by it, but I'm happy about it," he said. "Richard was making a lot of very negative comments toward the end there. In this business we have to work with everybody. I think that it behooves us to look at all options to keep everything open just so that the business continues."
No surprise to Dan Goossen
Most in the know had an inkling that Schaefer would leave Golden Boy sooner or later based on everything that has been going on, and all that has been said. Count promoter Dan Goossen among them. He was asked what his immediate reaction was to the news.
"Well, there was really none because I believe they each kind of laid out their future," said Goossen, president of Goossen Tutor Promotions in Sherman Oaks, Calif. "It was laid out months ago, really, from what they were saying themselves. So it wasn't really a surprise."
Ever the diplomat, Goossen took the easy way out when queried as to whether he believes Golden Boy will be hurt, or eventually better off, sans Schaefer.
"I believe both sides are going to be fine moving forward," he said.
Does a Cotto win over Martinez put him among best ever on island?
Miguel Cotto isn't saying that a victory over middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (on HBO pay-per-view) would make him the greatest ever from the island. But he does take some pride in knowing that he could make history for his beloved Puerto Rico by becoming its first four-division world champion. Cotto has won titles in the junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight divisions.
"It is a personal matter," Cotto said. "A personal achievement that I want to win and I am working for it on June 7. It doesn’t mean that I am going to be better than Wilfredo Gomez, better than Félix Trinidad, better than all of the great champions that Puerto Rico has produced. But for me, Miguel, it will be the greatest accomplishment of my career."
Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) was coaxed into expounding on that subject during a recent conference call.
"I am just waking up every day trying to do my best in preparation so I am at my best for every opportunity that I have to fight," he said. "I don’t want to be named, myself, as one of the elite boxers of Puerto Rico – that’s for the fans and for the people that know about boxing.
"I just want to do my job the best I can and I am going to do that the rest of my career."
Roach gives Cotto high marks
Considering all of the terrific fighters Freddie Roach has trained over a long career - including Manny Pacquiao - it was interesting to hear Roach sing the praises of Cotto, who will have Roach in his corner for the second time Saturday.
"Miguel is one of the hardest punchers I have worked with," Roach said. "We are working every day on the mitts with my body protector on and that doesn’t help that much any more; Miguel goes right through that.
"His punching power is great, his speed has been good and everything is right where I want it to be."
Here's the icing on the cake.
"Miguel is one of the hardest workers I have been with and he is the most disciplined fighter I have ever worked with," Roach said. "We have a great relationship and it
will show in the fight."
Sanchez on Cotto
Cotto mentioned that a victory over Martinez won't necessarily make him better than all of the other Puerto Rican prize-fighting greats. But the aforementioned Sanchez definitely believes it would put Cotto in their company, especially since in Sanchez's mind Martinez remains a "formidable champion" even though he's had some tough moments in recent fights.
"If he beats Martinez and there is no controversy, I believe it would put Cotto up there with them."
Sanchez suggested Cotto having moved up through the weight classes makes his argument even stronger.
"Cotto moving up in weight, and if he beats Martinez, I think it (a win over Martinez) puts him up there," Sanchez said.
Goossen believes Chris Arreola has one more shot in him
When Bermane Stiverne won the vacant heavyweight championship with a sixth-round stoppage of Chris Arreola on May 10 in Los Angeles, it meant Arreola was 0-for-2 in major title fights.
That doesn't mean it's the last we'll see of Arreola on the big stage, said Goossen, his promoter.
"I don't believe he should have thought about retirement," Goossen said of Arreola, 33.
"I mean, he is just now kind of finally understanding that he's gotta work hard to give himself every opportunity. Certainly, I've been around long enough to know that you've gotta go 12 rounds before you can claim victory.
"But I certainly liked what I saw from the second round on. He was looking like he was controlling the fight and doing what I'm used to seeing Chris doing. We know he's got a great chin, but he got caught on that temple and that kind of puts a lot of us on that uneasy footing."
Goossen loved that Arreola didn't want to give up the ship after being decked twice in the fateful sixth.
"What I've always like about Chris, and what I liked that night, is he still didn't want to pack it in," Goossen said. "He could barely stand up but he kept on getting up."
As long as Arreola stays in the right frame of mind - he has a long history of being a slacker in training, but that has improved - he'll be back, Goossen said.
"If he's willing to continue his movement toward keeping in shape and staying in shape, I think he's got one more good run in him to try and turn things around," Goossen said. "But it's going to take him staying in shape, being ready."
Arreola was ahead by one point on two of the scorecards at the time of the stoppage, Stiverne was ahead by a point on the third.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.