Gennady Golovkin sparring stories: Should Canelo pay attention?Written by Lee Cleveland
One of the biggest match-ups in boxing in the last 20 years, Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin, is official for September 16th, 2017.
Of course, the fight won't serve as the first time the two will have traded shots in a ring.
In 2011 or 2012, Canelo and GGG sparred in Big Bear, California, and there are varying accounts of what happened.
Some insist Golovkin hurt Canelo hurt a few times, others say the sessions were relatively equal while some surmise GGG may have held back due to his size advantage and Alvarez's youth. Regardless, those stories aren't entirely relevant, especially since Canelo has grown in size and enhanced his skills since then.
"I did a lot of sparring with him in the past, and I was 20-years-old when I did it, but I know what I can do," Canelo told FightHype last year.
"He’s a very strong fighter, but I think I am also. I didn’t feel him/the power like people say, and that’s probably because I’m a strong fighter also,” Canelo added.
Could those sparring sessions have given Alvarez a false sense of security?
Most Golovkin sparring stories are different. In fact, rumors about Gennady Golovkin's sparring sessions have circulated for several years. Sparring sessions in boxing are like fables because they are often not recorded and few are on-hand to witness them. Moreover, many in boxing adhere to the old adage 'what happens in the gym, stays in the gym', and will refuse to disclose intimate details as it relates to sparring.
However, stories, whether embellished, true, or entirely false, have leaked about Golovkin unleashing brutality on much bigger men while sparring.
"There's one thing that I can't teach, and I don't think any coach can teach, is punching power," Sanchez told LiveFight.com in 2012. "He was born with a gift."
"He's sparring with cruiserweights and heavyweights. I can't spar him with junior middleweights and middleweights."
Abel Sanchez, the current trainer of Gennady Golovkin, has offered numerous accounts of GGG's apparent one-sided sparring sessions with light heavyweight bully Sergey Kovalev. Several years ago, Sanchez trained both fighters concurrently for a brief time.
“Kovalev was afraid of Golovkin when he was in the ring with him,” recalled Abel Sanchez in December 2013. I couldn’t spar them too much because Kovalev showed Gennady too much respect in the ring."
"When he did spar Gennady, Sergey would fall apart and wouldn’t pose much of a challenge for Golovkin. It was either too much respect or too much fear.”
Former sparring partner Tyrell Hendrix told ESNews, "'I'm gonna tell you the truth, man, that Golovkin dude, he's no hype. He punches so hard, man, he punch through the headgear, man.
"He has freakishly unreal power, man. But people don't know, I knocked him down in the first round when I came to sparring, and after that he beat me up every other day, it was nasty."
"He don't do nothing real special, he just hits so hard you can't even implement your game plan because he hits so hard."
"He's a nice guy. He invited me out. I was up there and we sit down and ate but after in sparring he tried to kill me."
Ryan Coyne, Cruiserweight
To help prepare for his match with Gregorz Proksa in 2012, Golovkin sparred with cruiserweight Ryan Coyne who told RING:
“I’ve sparred with heavyweights who can punch, including Mariusz Wach and Mike Perez, nobody has hit me as hard as Golovkin. His power is out of this world.”
Farah Ennis, Light Heavyweight
"He's the strongest dude I ever sparred. And I been in there with heavyweights, cruiserweights," Farah Ennis told ESNews.
Julius Jackson, Super Middleweight
A super middleweight whoed help prepare GGG for his bout with Marco Antonio Rubio told Sports News 24:
“The rumors are true, Gennady Golovkin is an animal. I’ve never been hit as hard from anybody else and I’ve sparred heavyweights."
...And the above represent just several of many Golovkin sparring testimonials.
So, should Canelo and Co pay any attention?
Yes - Where there's smoke, there fire. All of the accounts can't be false or embellished.
Alvarez insists he didn't feel Golovkin's power when they sparred years ago. If that was the case, he's one of the few.
If Canelo thinks Golovkin can't hurt him because they previously sparred on several occasions and he (presumably) held his own, Alvarez could be in for a rude awakening in September.
But Canelo's advantages over those heavier fighters Golovkin presumably pummeled in sparring are speed and overall ring guile. He's much quicker than a super middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight, and possesses a higher ring IQ than most fighters, even elite combatants. Nevertheless, he's not going to want to stand and bang with Golovkin like he did James Kirkland. And he shouldn't go into ‘Mike Tyson' mode and come out blazing like he did against Alfredo Angulo.
Canelo vs GGG News
Date: September 16, 2107
Broadcast: HBO PPV (US)
Champion: Golovkin (Consensus)
Who cares what happened or didn’t happen in the Golovkin-Alvarez sparring sessions years ago? Gennady is 37-0 with 33 knockouts. If that’s not enough to convince someone he has crippling power, his sparring stories certainly are.
Alvarez must respect Golovkin's power and, for safety purposes, assume GGG punches as hard as a strong heavyweight.
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.