Golovkin fo­cused

“GGG” missed birth of daugh­ter to train for Satur­day’s fight vs. Al­varez

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Martin Rogers

Gen­nady Golovkin re­ceived a phone call just be­fore lunch time last Fri­day, the kind of call that a man never for­gets. His wife was go­ing into la­bor. Eight days be­fore the big­gest fight of his ca­reer, an­other sem­i­nal, lifechang­ing mo­ment was here.

Golovkin hung up the phone and al­lowed him­self a lit­tle smile. Trainer Abel Sanchez, op­er­at­ing out of his cen­ter in Big Bear, Calif., started to go through op­tions in his mind, fig­ur­ing out how to re­jig his fighter’s sched­ule to ac­com­mo­date the change in cir­cum­stances.

Even with Los An­ge­les traf­fic it takes just a cou­ple of hours and change to drive from Big Bear to Santa Mon­ica, where Alina Golov- kina was giv­ing birth. Ex­cept that her hus­band did not go. While Alina de­liv­ered a baby daugh­ter, the boxer known as “GGG” was un­der Sanchez’s su­per­vi­sion in the gym, putting in ex­tra ef­fort.

Golovkin chose not to say pub­licly why he stayed away, snap­ping an­grily at a re­porter who asked him about it this week.

“Can you please not ask me more about my fam­ily?” he said. “It is just, dif­fer­ent. My fo­cus is on box­ing. Box­ing – busi­ness. Fam­ily is dif­fer­ent.”

That busi­ness, and the pre­sumed rea­son for his ab­sence at such a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion, is the grav­ity of Satur­day’s show­down in Las Ve­gas. Golovkin, the WBC, WBA and IBF cham­pion, will fight Saul “Canelo” Al­varez in a high­lyan­tic­i­pated fight be­tween the world’s two best mid­dleweights, both among the lead­ing pound­for-pound com­bat­ants on the planet.

Golovkin has never had a big­ger or more lu­cra­tive fight. He has been avoided by some of the best be­cause he was too dan­ger­ous, with fiery fists and malev­o­lent in­tent. Even Al­varez ducked him un­til it be­came im­pos­si­ble, on the grounds of fi­nan­cial self-harm, to do so any longer. And so noth­ing can be al­lowed to get in the way, not even the one thing that you’d ex­pect an ex­cep­tion for.

“I have al­ready done my part,” Golovkin told Sanchez re­gard­ing the birth, or more ac­cu­rately the con­cep­tion.

“He is ex­cited,” Sanchez said. “I men­tioned it to him last week about me be­ing con­cerned and he said, ‘Coach, the baby is go­ing to come whether I am there or not.’ He is smil­ing a lot more. He is in a great mood. I don’t know if it be­cause the baby is here or be­cause he fi­nally has the fight that he has wanted.”

Sanchez started to get anx­ious last week when Alina was sev­eral days over­due. The vet­eran coach, him­self a fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, specif­i­cally told Golovkin, raised in Kaza­khstan but now call­ing Santa Mon­ica home, to leave camp and re­turn later.

“Gen­nady said, ‘No, we are train­ing at three,’” Sanchez added. “He didn’t leave the gym un­til prob­a­bly six.”

The baby was born at four. Fam­ily has been a con­sis­tent theme through Golovkin’s story. He was in­tro­duced to box­ing at age 8 by his older brothers, Vadim and Sergey, both of whom were later killed per­form­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice.

Later, he was nearly forced to quit the sport, and would have done so but for a 50-50 de­ci­sion. Golovkin has a twin brother, Max, born 15 min­utes apart. Both were out­stand­ing am­a­teur fighters. Each rose through the ranks to be­come good enough for se­lec­tion to a pre- Olympic qual­i­fy­ing camp. The fam­ily could only af­ford to send one.

Gen­nady Golovkin says, “Max was much bet­ter than me,” but it was Gen­nady who got the nod, went on to win a sil­ver at the 2004 Olympics, and par­layed it into a now un­de­feated (37-0, 33 KOs) ca­reer as one of the best in the sport.

“It was the for­mer Soviet Union at the time,” Max Golovkin said this week through an in­ter­preter. “The fam­ily didn’t have a lot of money. They chose that Gen­nady should con­tinue his ca­reer.”

GGG’s English is func­tional, good enough to trans­mit in­for­ma­tion about train­ing times and box­ing con­cepts but limited when it comes to mat­ters that re­quire emo­tional cor­re­spon­dence. As a re­sult, the box­ing com­mu­nity re­spects his fistic power and en­joys his all-ac­tion ap­proach, but only those in his in­ner cir­cle feel they know him.

Sanchez is grate­ful for the pres­ence of Max, and says the twins will al­ways un­der­stand each other bet­ter than any­one.

Max knows that some peo­ple might think miss­ing the birth of a child is cold or heart­less, yet he in­sists that is the fur­thest thing from the truth.

“He is a happy fa­ther,” Max added. “And I am a happy un­cle.”

JOHN LOCHER AP

Gen­nady Golovkin skipped his baby’s birth last Fri­day.

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