No one involved with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, not his trainer Abel Sanchez, his promoters, or Golovkin himself, say he goes into fights planning on a knockout.
Tell that to his last 14 opponents, none of whom saw the final bell. While compiling a 27-0 record, the heavy-fisted buzzsaw from Kazakhstan has knocked out 24 of those opponents.
Still, both fighter and trainer say their plan is to box smart, press the action, and everything should take care of itself. They are looking to do that on Saturday when Golovkin returns to the HBO airwaves (10 p.m. ET) to take on American Curtis Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), who has knocked out three of his last four opponents in the first round.
Win, and Golovkin positions himself for potential fights against superstars like Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez, but he does not want to get caught looking ahead.
“I’m just focused here now,” Golovkin says. “I’m very focused. I feel great. Training camp was perfect. I’m ready for him and I’m ready to fight now.”
Prior to arriving in the states, Golovkin was something of a cult figure with American fans who streamed his fights on the Internet looking to see his highlight-reel knockouts. Three of his last four fights have been in America and on HBO. The one that wasn’t may have been his most spectacular finish, a third-round win where he knocked the strong-chinned Nobuhiro Ishida out cold with a devastating shot upstairs. In his last time out, he showed his variety, knocking out Matthew Macklin with a body shot, giving opponents one more thing to worry about.
“We work on everything,” Sanchez said. “I like my fighters to be well-rounded, where, he can take advantage of whatever presents itself. I think that with 350 amateur fights, I think he’s a far superior boxer than any middleweight out there right now.
“Saying that, I think that a knockout comes with some boxing skills. A knockout doesn’t come because guys stand there and let you hit them. You’re going to have to step things up and that takes boxing skills.”
Golovkin says the lead-up to the fight has been filled with “too much talking,” but is prepared to let his fists speak for him, something which has become the norm for him. He and Sanchez also say their opponents’ efforts to get inside his head with trash talk will be for naught.
“What he said was that Curtis is just talking and doesn’t understand the situation that he’s put himself into,” Sanchez explains. “We respect the fact that he has a lot of knockouts, but those knockouts came at a different level. So it’s a matter of stepping through the ropes in a championship fight against a world-class champion and Curtis has never done that so I don’t think … Gennady doesn’t think that he understands all the talk that he’s doing is not … it’s not only going to … not going to do him any good but it’s not going to help him when he steps through the ropes.”
On Saturday, fans can expect heavy punches to be thrown by two guys who do not like to go to the scorecards. While Golovkin and his team may not expect these knockouts, the fans do, and so far, he has not failed to deliver.
“I think it will be a great show,” he said. “It will be a big show with big drama.”