SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 5, 2019 – Gennadiy Golovkin looks like a new man. It starts with correcting the spelling of his first name in English to be more accurate – something he was probably too polite to point out in 2014. Fast forward through a whirlwind five years to a relaxed, refreshed approach to boxing in the final stage of his career. Embracing change could lead to Golovkin hearing the most important three words in the sport: “And the new.”
Alongside new trainer Johnathan Banks, Golovkin talked with Ringside Seat about those changes from his perspective. Seeing is believing. Golovkin appeared to have the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders meeting with boxing media and putting on a brief workout at Churchill Boxing Club near his home in Santa Monica. “I’m having fun … I’m enjoying myself again,” said Golovkin.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?
The new look suits the 37-year-old from Kazakhstan, now 38-1-1 with 34 knockouts – still an impressive record nearly any professional boxer would envy.
See Golovkin’s interview here.
Golovkin went from being an obscure undefeated unknown from a former Soviet republic with a name few could spell without checking to become one of boxing’s top pound for pound athletes. The feared power puncher with the ‘Mexican Style’ suffered his first loss in September, a controversial decision in his second fight against Canelo Alvarez. When a long time champion loses his belts in his first professional loss, it doesn’t matter whether he sees things differently than the judges. It’s time for a reckoning.
New trainer Johnathan Banks steps in
One change was in the works long before the loss. With HBO divesting itself from boxing, Golovkin needed to find a new media platform. Golovkin announced a three-year, six fight contract with DAZN. In addition, and the linchpin for Golovkin’s future, DAZN will work with GGG Promotions on two fight cards in 2020, and two more in 2021 guaranteed.
The bigger change came along in late April when seemingly out of the blue, Golovkin announced a split from his longtime trainer, Abel Sanchez. His public statement read in part, “I want to build on what I have already achieved and continue to better myself. Therefore, I will not be training with Abel Sanchez. This was not an easy decision for me and it is not a reflection on Abel’s professional abilities. He is a great trainer, a loyal trainer, and a Hall of Fame trainer.
“I will be announcing my new trainer at a later date. But today, I want to thank Abel for the lessons he taught me in boxing.”
Sanchez reacted badly, claiming the split was more about a disagreement over compensation. Cue the speculation over who Golovkin would hire as his replacement. Freddie Roach? Robert Garcia? Gennadiy Mashianov? No, the unlikely name is Johnathan Banks, heavyweight boxer and former assistant trainer to the late Emanuel Steward. Banks took over for Steward during his illness and after his death in 2012, most famously for former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. In hindsight it wasn’t such a shock. Golovkin’s longtime promoter is Klitschko’s K2 Promotions.
Hear from Banks about working with Golovkin and his approach to training the veteran middleweight, and watch the pair in action. It’s safe to say Abel Sanchez didn’t let Golovkin hit him like Banks does.
Golovkin: ‘I feel like a young guy’
Golovkin learned plenty of hard lessons outside the ring, having watched his early career stall through empty promises by his German promoter, who let him languish in favor of his popular stablemate Felix Sturm. This came after being denied a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics most people believe he earned. Fourteen years later, Golovkin finds himself making adjustments in his career. The ability to make adjustments during a fight and deviating from the fight plan when the circumstances call for it is among the greatest assets a boxer can possess.
Golovkin can benefit from his loss as long as learning occurs, and he applies those lessons. Golovkin’s enthusiasm over the chance to learn new things as a 37-year-old veteran gives him a shot of energy not seen since he first burst into view in the U.S.
“I respect Abel,” Golovkin said at the time of their split. “He taught me a lot. It was a good experience. But I want more. I want to learn again and again. I can’t stop, and the last couple of years I stopped improving. I need more experience.”
After working with Banks, Golovkin told Ringside Seat, “Right now I feel like a young guy,” said Golovkin. “John, he brings a lot of ideas, new ideas – boxing ideas, you know?” Observing him and comparing his demeanor to the younger version of Golovkin we first met in 2014, he looks younger and far less tense than he has in several years.
In many cases, losses make boxers better than they were before. Fans obsess over perfect records, but they don’t necessarily lead to growth in athletic performance. Change is what leads to growth, and Golovkin’s newly energized attitude telegraphs positive changes are taking place.
Fans will judge for themselves when Golovkin returns to the ring on Saturday, June 8, against undefeated 35-year-old Canadian middleweight Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) in a catchweight fight at 164 pounds. The recent upset by new heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua adds some spice and intrigue to a bout where Golovkin is the heavy favorite.
The bottom line: boxing is better in 2019 with a reinvigorated Gennadiy Golovkin in it, finding joy again in his sport and in his reasons for being in the squared circle. Giving fans this experience will win them over. Nobody is asking Andy Ruiz Jr. about his single controversial defeat anymore.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2019 by Falcon Valley Group