“GGG” missed birth of daughter to train for Saturday’s fight vs. Alvarez
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.”
Gennady Golovkin skipped his baby’s birth last Friday.