Hi, my name is Lance Pugmire, and welcome to our weekly boxing/MMA newsletter. This newsletter will be delivered right to your inbox every week if you sign up here. Let’s get right to the news.
Watch what you say about people when you think they’re down. When the roles are reversed, guess what happens?
After Gennady Golovkin’s decision to cut ties to him, Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s longtime trainer, was afforded little – make that no – sympathy this week when the subject of the split was raised with Daniel Jacobs and his trainer Andre Rozier.
Jacobs and Rozier, preparing for the Brooklyn fighter’s Saturday night middleweight-title unification bout on DAZN versus Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena, had instant recall regarding the disrespect Sanchez aimed at them two years ago when Golovkin and Jacobs fought in a bout won narrowly by Golovkin on the scorecards.
Jacobs said when he learned that Golovkin was parting with the architect of so many of the boxer’s Big Bear training camps last week, “I thought it was … I was going to say hilarious. Abel is not the most pleasant guy when it comes to criticizing Triple-G’s opponents … he’s said a lot of negative things about me and Canelo, saying we’re fighting for Golovkin’s belts and so many disrespectful things.
“I’m glad I have my trainer who’s been here since Day One and made me who I am today. When we get this win, not only do I catapult, but he does too, as one of the best trainers in the world,” Jacobs said.
Golovkin praised Sanchez while announcing last week’s breakup as the former long-reigning middleweight champion prepares to move on from his first career loss and fight obscure Canadian Steve Rolls June 8 at Madison Square Garden with a new, as-yet-unnamed corner man.
But Sanchez responded in astonishment, stunned that Golovkin, after signing a six-fight deal with DAZN in excess of $100 million, would offer his longtime trainer a pay cut. Sanchez called the parting “greedy.”
“When I see all these other trainers saying so many negative things and then all this happens, I just smile,” Jacobs said.
Rozier interjected, “especially Abel.… I wish bad on nobody, but that guy – holy smokes – I was waiting for that to happen, because he’s the worst.”
Sanchez had no problem criticizing Alvarez for his failed 2018 drug test that delayed his rematch victory over Golovkin. Sanchez often made light of Alvarez’s excuse that he accidentally ingested the banned substance clenbuterol from contaminated meat in Mexico by eating carne asada.
“It’s just the way he goes about things,” Rozier said of Sanchez. “I’ll never forget. We were on the phone. We had a conference [call with reporters] and [Sanchez] told me Danny was not ready for the big time.
“I was watching him when we were fighting Golovkin, and [Sanchez] was sweating bullets, and we were like, ‘Yeah, c’mon baby, one more time, let’s keep mouthing it up.’
“I don’t wish bad on anybody, but sometimes you can talk so much, you talk yourself right out of a situation, and that’s what Abel Sanchez did.”
The exchange further stirs the loaded middleweight division, with Golovkin clearly biding his time trying to angle to fight Saturday’s winner and hoping it’s Alvarez.
Cancer survivor Jacobs added, “Best of luck to [Sanchez] and best of luck to Golovkin, whatever they choose to do … hopefully me and Golovkin can get it on in the near future. That’s definitely someone I still have my sights on.
“This fight will solidify my legacy, catapult me to the top as far as one of the main sports figures in boxing and it may be one of the best comeback stories in sports. I’m looking forward to setting an example as a great sportsman and becoming the best middleweight in the world.”
The big moment of Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut June 1 at Madison Square Garden will come against a large man who weighed in last month in Carson at a stout 262 pounds.
Andy Ruiz Jr. of Imperial, Calif., was officially designated the replacement for performance-enhancing-drug-stained Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on Wednesday morning.
The 29-year-old Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) previously fought for one of Joshua’s three heavyweight belts – the World Boxing Organization version – and lost a narrow decision Down Under to Joseph Parker.
“This is my chance. This is my opportunity, and I’m going to do whatever I can to take that belt back to Mexico and the U.S.,” Ruiz said. “I felt they stole my fight [versus Parker] and that was my chance to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world. I feel they just took it away. This time, I’m going to let everything go and get what’s mine.”
England’s Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) also wears the WBA and IBF belts, and he stands as a sizable favorite over 11-1 underdog Ruiz.
“He’s one of the best out there, but I’m here to take what’s mine and pull off the upset,” Ruiz said.
While Ruiz’s portly figure diminishes him in fans’ eye test, fight observers are impressed by his ability and power, as was demonstrated in his fifth-round stoppage victory of German fighter Alexander Dimitrenko on April 20 in Carson.
He says the fact that he’s turning to another fight so suddenly will aid his conditioning, explaining that he’s consulting with a nutritionist and will run often to maximize his fitness for a bout that could leave him vulnerable in late rounds if he doesn’t.
“The main thing is to stay focused, stay calm and know what’s there … what’s there is everything,” Ruiz said. “I don’t know if [Miller] didn’t have confidence in himself or what, but … I’m here now and I’m just really excited for the opportunity to accomplish my dreams.”
The news this week that WWE performer and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was retiring from future UFC competition may cost the company a pay-per-view draw.
Lesnar’s post-title appearances seemed to cheapen the UFC product from the standpoint that a big, athletic guy – ultimately found to be doping – could give less than year-round attention to the sport and rise to champion, or title-challenging status, so quickly.
Subtracting him for good allows heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier to move on toward an Aug. 17 rematch and title defense that ESPN.com first reported against former champion Stipe Miocic of Cleveland.
Following his draw with veteran Jon Fitch on Saturday night in San Jose in the Bellator MMA welterweight grand prix, champion Rory MacDonald discussed his inner struggle with maintaining his strong religious convictions in the violent sport.
Some speculated MacDonald would leave the sport following the powerful interview.
But MacDonald has decided to keep fighting, and he will meet Neiman Gracie June 14 in a semifinal bout at Madison Square Garden.
“I felt an internal struggle during the fight [that] I never experienced before,” MacDonald said in a statement distributed by Bellator. “It felt more like a job than the satisfaction I am used to feeling by being dominant.
“I used to fight with anger I held within myself from pain I had experienced in my past. To be honest, I believe this comes from my heart changing as I am walking a new life as a Christian. The Lord has given me peace and freedom from the pain that haunted me … .
“I still and will always have a passion for martial arts and do not believe, as a Christian, that it’s wrong for myself to compete in a professional sport that is violent. I’m happy to testify about being a Christian on this platform I’ve been given. I am not retiring.”
Bring on Claressa?
Unbeaten middleweight Raquel Miller (8-0) will meet Erin Toughill (7-4-1) in the main event of the Gardens Casino “Fight Night” card in Hawaiian Gardens on May 18.
Fight promoter Roy Englebrecht said Miller’s success could move the San Francisco fighter closer to a meeting with her amateur rival, unified middleweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields.
“Raquel’s one of the best in that 154- to 160-pound range, and this fight is the first step toward building her up toward a meeting with Claressa,” Miller promoter Lou DiBella said. “No one has come to us yet, but one of the reasons she’s taking this fight is that we can build it to a bigger fight.”
DiBella expressed skepticism about the dollars and pay-per-view potential for a meeting between unified champions Shields and Cecilia Braekhus, and if that needs more time to develop, a Miller victory in the Southland might allow her to emerge as a Shields foe.
“We know Raquel very well. We know the type of fighter she is and she could be next for Claressa depending on what transpires,” Shields’ manager Mark Taffet said.
Breaking middleweight news
World Boxing Organization champion Demetrius Andrade will defend his belt June 29 on DAZN versus Maciej Sulecki at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., promoter Eddie Hearn told the Los Angeles Times. Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) will be positioned by the schedule to meet any of his fellow champions or leading title contenders later this year by defeating Sulecki.
Special boxing announcement
Canelo Alvarez, the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. middleweight champion, is squaring off against Daniel Jacobs, the International Boxing Federation champion, on Saturday night from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
But as a reader, we’d like to invite you to join us for some special pre-fight prep: A live recording of our podcast “Arrive Early, Leave Late” from Losers Bar at the MGM Grand Casino. We’ll focus on the big fight with an array of Times journalists, including boxing writer Lance Pugmire, columnists Dylan Hernandez, Arash Markazi and LZ Granderson and some extra special guests from the boxing world. We’ll also have a few other surprises after Friday’s weigh-in. Please join us from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Losers. Look for more information on this soon.
Thank you for reading. And hope to see you on Friday.
Assistant Managing Editor, Sports
Los Angeles Times
Until next time