The changes keep coming for former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin.
On Wednesday, Golovkin announced perhaps the biggest change of all — that he has parted ways with longtime trainer Abel Sanchez, who was an integral part of his success since they got together for Golovkin’s first world title bout in 2010.
“I would like to announce that I have made a major decision for myself and for my career,” Golovkin said in a statement. “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 did not take the firing well.
“Greedy and ungrateful,” Sanchez told ESPN. “He just signed a $100 million contract [with DAZN] and all of a sudden you have to make drastic steps because you don’t have enough money? I feel for the morals and scruples of somebody like that. It’s all over money.
“I wouldn’t take what they were trying to insult me with. It’s very disappointing because I never would’ve guessed that this young man would do that. I thought this young man had more scruples, more morals, a better upbringing. I never thought it would corrupt him like that. I was blindsided, really.”
For years, Golovkin and Sanchez were inseparable and Golovkin was a regular at Sanchez’s Summit Gym in Big Bear Lake, California, sometimes even going there to work out and help with Sanchez’s other boxers even when he was not specifically training for a fight.
But Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), 37, a Kazakhstan native living in Santa Monica, California, with his wife and children, has wanted to remain closer to home during training camp rather than go to Big Bear, according to some close to him, and likely will train in the Los Angeles area for his upcoming 12-round fight with Steve Rolls. The fight is scheduled to be at a contract weight of 164 pounds on June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York and is the first bout of GGG’s newly signed three-year, six-fight, nine-figure deal with sports streaming service DAZN.
The decision to leave Sanchez marks yet another change in Golovkin’s career in the wake of his disputed majority decision loss to Canelo Alvarez that cost him his three title belts in their rematch in September, which came one year after an even more controversial draw that most thought GGG won. Since then Golovkin has taken the reigns of the business of his career, parting ways with his management, bringing on a new attorney, making the decision to sign with DAZN over other offers and getting more serious about building his GGG Promotions, which will have events bankrolled by DAZN beginning next year.
Rumors that GGG would split with Sanchez have been rampant for the past few weeks, and when Sanchez was not present for either the New York or Los Angeles news conferences this week to announce the fight with Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs), 35, of Toronto, it seemed to be just a matter of time until Golovkin made the change official.
“I think we accomplished a lot of great things,” Sanchez said. “I think that unfortunately money corrupts, and in this case money was more important than a relationship, a great legacy and history. But I have to go on. I have other kids in my gym that depend on me. We’ll go from here.”
Golovkin’s first fight with Sanchez came in 2010 in Panama City, where he knocked out Milton Nunez in the first round to win an interim middleweight world title.
From there, Sanchez guided Golovkin to a historic title reign in which he tied the middleweight division record with 20 consecutive title defenses and unified three belts before the loss to Alvarez in the rematch. All told, Golovkin was 20-1-1 with Sanchez in his corner.
Tom Loeffler, the managing director of GGG Promotions, who has been part of Golovkin’s team as long as Sanchez was, has a close relationship with both men.
“Think Abel brought a lot to Gennady’s career. It was a decision Gennady made. There hasn’t been any decision made yet on a new trainer, but it adds to the ‘Big Drama Show,” Loeffler told ESPN of the fight with Rolls.
ESPN’s Steve Kim contributed to this report.