By Keith Idec
CARSON, California – As important as it is to Gennady Golovkin to one day own all of boxing’s recognized middleweight titles, his trainer has given up hope of that happening.
Abel Sanchez is certain Golovkin would beat Billy Joe Saunders if they ever fought. Sanchez also is convinced that Saunders, the WBO 160-pound champion, doesn’t genuinely want to challenge Golovkin for full middleweight supremacy.
“Look, we know now that he’s never gonna be the unified champion,” Sanchez told a group of reporters following Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday night at StubHub Center. “Saunders is never gonna fight him. Saunders is never gonna fight him because, like I said a little while ago, is looking for lottery money. He’s waiting for that opportunity and Saunders doesn’t wanna fight him.”
England’s Saunders seemed willing to fight Golovkin last June. Negotiations ceased once Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) and his handlers determined that there wouldn’t have been enough time between boxing Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) last June 10 in Kazakhstan and resting before the start of training camp for his September 16 showdown with Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs).
Once a deal was finalized for Alvarez and Golovkin to fight in Las Vegas, Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, didn’t want Golovkin to fight Saunders first. With so much money at stake heading toward an Alvarez-Golovkin bout, it simply wasn’t worth the risk of suffering a cut or another injury or, worst of all, getting upset by Saunders.
The British southpaw would be an attractive alternative if Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, can’t come to an agreement with the suspended Alvarez’s handlers to reschedule their rematch for September 15. Sanchez suspects Saunders would price himself out of those negotiations, though, which would deny Golovkin an opportunity to add the WBO title to his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC championships.
“Well, he asked for $7 million to fight [Daniel] Jacobs,” Sanchez said. “Isn’t that what he asked for to fight Jacobs? So imagine Golovkin. It’s gonna be Anthony Joshua money. So we’re kind of, in my opinion, we’re not gonna get that fourth belt. So really, the belts are not as important as what’s in Gennady’s best interests.”
The 28-year-old Saunders is scheduled to make the next defense of his WBO title June 23. He’ll make an optional defense that night against England’s Martin Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs) at O2 Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.