HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney chat with Gennady Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, about how he expects Canelo Alvarez to fight in the rematch, GGG's mindset in camp, and what it will take to make a third fight.
With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, HBO Boxing Insiders take a look back at the fights that aired on HBO and HBO PPV in 2017. Here, they make their selections for Best Corner – not just for the boxer’s trainer and cutman, but the promoters, managers and entire teams that put their man in the best position to do what they do best.
Nat Gottlieb: Abel Sanchez and Tom Loeffler
The team of trainer Abel Sanchez and promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions combined for two of the most thrilling fights of the year. Sanchez and Loeffler got their undefeated boxer Gennady Golovkin ready for two supreme tests in 2017. In March, Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs put on a sensational show before a packed house at Madison Square Garden in which GGG won a close but unanimous decision. The same team matched up Golovkin and Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas in September. It was one of the most anticipated bouts in years, and although it ended in a controversial draw, it didn’t disappoint for excitement. Loeffler also promoted two more great fights in 2017. In April, he put on the heavyweight battle between longtime former reigning champion, Wladimir Klitschko and rising star Anthony Joshua at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was a fantastic fight with a spectacular finish, as the American slugger knocked down Klitschko twice in the 11th round to earn a TKO victory. Loffler capped his year in September when he promoted the eagerly-awaited rematch of Roman Gonzalez and Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. It too proved to a terrific fight, with the Thai boxer knocking out the former best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Springs Toledo: Dominic Ingle
What Billy Joe Saunders didn't understand and what Dominic Ingle did was that boxing is a character sport first. Although skills are critical and count more than athleticism, it's character that is the foundation of the sport -- roadwork before sunrise, tedious workout sessions, grueling sparring sessions in the ring, self-denial out of it. Saunders walked into the Wincobank Gym in Sheffield in June, reported to Ingle and set up quarters in a house next door. Ingle is the lead in a team that includes nutritionist Greg Marriott and loft-mate Kid Galahad and is built on the age-old boxing principles. "He's got too many distractions," Ingle told Boxing News in June. In September, Saunders defeated Willie Monroe Jr. In October, David Lemieux was formally announced as his opponent. His cloistered devotion to conditioning and craft paid off and he not only won, but astounded everyone. He has no illusions about what and who he needs. If it wasn't for Dominic Ingle, he said in the post-fight interview, "my boxing career would be finished and over."
Hamilton Nolan: Andre Rozier
Andre Rozier. Sadam Ali beat Cotto, and Danny Jacobs did better than anyone had ever done against Golovkin. That's enough for a decade.
Gordon Marino: Virgil Hunter
Frank Della Femina: Andre Rozier
For the past two years we’ve been spoiled by erratic Teddy Atlas-isms to the point where nothing can even come close to matching it. But while this year’s fights missed stoic statements about “water in the basement” or shifting boxing careers to that of “firemen”, I’m going to give this title to Sadam Ali’s corner in his fight against Miguel Cotto. Although it is public knowledge at this point that Cotto was injured in Round 7, Ali’s corner was overly animated, encouraging, and motivating for a guy who was simply written off by everyone watching that fight. Say what you will about him beating a one-handed fighter, but if you’re in the ring with a legend like Cotto, fighting to stay alive and stake a claim in another HBO Boxing main event, you need inspiration, confidence, and direction. Ali executed well, but his corner helped him get there.
Oliver Goldstein: Andre Rozier
Few backed Danny Jacobs against Gennady Golovkin in March. And while Jacobs didn’t emerge with the nod, he took Golovkin into far deeper waters than anyone had managed previously. Jacobs had GGG looking bemused through three, though the Kazakh seemed to waken from slumber when he had him on the canvas in the fourth. No problem – Jacobs returned to his feet and had Golovkin looking defanged all over again. Key to this was a strategy that had GGG frequently off balance as he looked to let go of the combination punches he’s become known for. This was a loss, but Jacobs left the ring a bigger fighter than he entered it. 2018 should be a big year for the New Yorker.
Kieran Mulvaney: Freddie Roach
There are plenty of good candidates for this, numerous occasions on which a corner team has coaxed the best out of its fighter in those difficult moments when all seemed to be going against him. Chepo and Eddie Reynoso, for example, made sure that Canelo Alvarez knew he needed the three best rounds of his life if he had to have any hope of preventing Gennady Golovkin from winning their middleweight battle. But nobody turned around a fight the way Alberto Machado did. In his October bout with Jezreel Corrales, Machado was being hit from every conceivable angle by just about every kind of punch. He was dropped. He was being battered. Through it all, trainer Freddie Roach calmly told him to stick to the fundamentals, work his jab and wait for the openings. And because of the way Corrales flung himself into his unorthodox attack, Roach assured him, those openings would come. In the event, Corrales needed just one, uncorking a left hook that landed on the jaw of his onrushing opponent and dropped him. Corrales juuuuust failed to beat the count, and Machado had the win.
Carlos Acevedo: Rob McCracken
Working with the talented but unseasoned Anthony Joshua—who had never gone into the eighth round before facing his biggest test in Wladimir Klitschko—Rob McCracken provided a calming voice in the corner between rounds. This was particularly evident when an exhausted Joshua, after suffering the first knockdown of his career, plopped onto his stool at the end of the sixth. Joshua struggled for the next few rounds, but with the guidance of McCracken, once a middleweight contender himself, Joshua pulled through for the biggest win of his career.
Eric Raskin: Andre Rozier
I’m picking Ali in part because I want to give recognition to Andre Rozier, who coached Ali to an upset win over Miguel Cotto and guided Daniel Jacobs to what many saw as an upset win over Gennady Golovkin. For my money, Rozier is the clear Trainer of the Year. But Ali was also guided expertly from a managerial perspective. He had his confidence restored with three comeback wins that followed his 2016 knockout loss to Jessie Vargas, and when he was offered a fight with Cotto that many viewed as a mismatch, his team had the confidence to sign for the fight. In and out of the ring, you can’t steer a young fighter any more perfectly than Ali was steered this year.
Diego Morilla: Thainchai “Bank” Pisitwuttinan
There were fighters and managers from all corners of the world at the usually boring and pedestrian pre-fight presser in Carson back in September, all of them taking turns to repeat their own self-praise about their great training camps and their gratitude to God and their promoters. But one of them had a story to tell, for a change. His fighter, he said, walked into his gym a few years prior with a dismal 2-3-1 record, and perhaps a dozen more losses in illegal bouts across the country. He was working as a trash collector, and oftentimes he found his meals in those bags as well. He was allowed to sleep on the floor of the gym as he trained, and before he knew it, he said, his fighter had gone from scavenging for food in Bangkok’s garbage bins to building a 25-win streak topped by a title bout that he lost, only to embark on another, 17-fight winning streak topped by back-to-back wins against the best fighter in the world. Wisaksil Wangek, A.K.A. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, said the man they call “Bank” for a reason, had cashed in on the hopes that he had deposited in him less than seven years ago to turn his life around and beat the best fighter in the world – twice. And just as another kid from the slums of an overcrowded Southeast Asian city (Manny something or other), he said, Wisaksil was here to stay. There may not be enough reasons to take his word to an actual bank just yet, but I can see myself betting my rent money on his assessment. I’ve lost more than that on lesser causes.
Michael Gluckstadt: Eddie and Chepo Reynoso
While I thought Gennady Golovkin did enough to secure a close win against Canelo Alvarez, what I thought going into the fight was that GGG would have his way. The Reynosos prepared their man to dismantle Golovkin's considerable arsenal, and Canelo had an answer for all of the questions previous opponents couldn't solve.
In the first of two Friday podcasts, HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney welcome guests Abel Sanchez, Larry Merchant, and Kelly Pavlik to share their thoughts on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight championship fight.
Canelo vs. Golovkin takes place Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View.
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, HBO Trainer of the Year.
Kieran Mulvaney: Javan "Sugar" Hill
Abel Sanchez has overseen the emerging superstardom of Gennady Golovkin, but as effective as he has been in molding his charge into the fan-friendly fighter we see today, the raw material with which he had to work was of the highest quality. Adonis Stevenson, on the other hand, was more of a diamond in the rough. The great Emanuel Steward barely had time to begin polishing that diamond before his untimely passing; Hill, Steward's nephew, has taken over the work his uncle started and has helped create a versatile and fan-friendly star in the making.
Eric Raskin: Javan "Sugar" Hill
In a year in which the most recognizable trainers with deep stables—Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia, Virgil Hunter—had too many ups and downs to keep track of, Hill is my pick because of what Adonis Stevenson achieved. Also, by picking Hill, I'm giving a bit of a posthumous award to the best trainer of recent decades, Emanuel Steward, who worked with Stevenson and Hill prior to his untimely passing in 2012.
Nat Gottlieb: Robert Garcia.
He's the hottest young trainer in the business, and he had a great year. Among the A-list of fighters he worked with this year were Nonito Donaire, Evgeny Gradovich, Brandon Rios, and his own younger brother, Mikey.
Tim Smith: Javan "Sugar'' Hill
The trainer for Adonis Stevenson set himself apart in 2013. Hill, the nephew of the late Emanuel Steward, took over training Stevenson after Steward passed away. Hill built on the foundation that Steward established and has set Stevenson on a path for greatness.
Hamilton Nolan: Abel Sanchez
There are plenty of good trainers and plenty of good fighters. But since no trainer this year can really claim two fighters who had incredible years, I have to go with the trainer whose one fighter--Golovkin--had the most incredible year. Sanchez is relaxed, cerebral, and knows what he's doing. Golovkin is lucky to have him.
Michael Gluckstadt: Freddie Roach
Just because someone's the best player year after year, doesn't mean you stop giving them the MVP. Roach continued to ply his trade as the best trainer in the game, overseeing the emergence of Ruslan Provodnikov, the resurgence of Miguel Cotto, and the return of Manny Pacquiao, among other feats. And the former boxer also showed he can still take a blow -- in this case, a kick to the stomach from Alex Ariza.