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Boxing trainer Joe Goossen fights on through promoter-brother's death

Boxing trainer Joe Goossen fights on through promoter-brother's death
Boxing trainer Joe Goossen watches closely as Shane Mosley works out before a fight on Nov. 15, 2004. Goosen's brother, Dan Goossen, died Monday due to complications from liver cancer. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

For the last month, Joe Goossen's routine has been a draining cycle of business as usual and daily heartbreak.

Goossen, the veteran San Fernando Valley-based boxing trainer, is the brother of promoter Dan Goossen, who on Monday died due to complications from liver cancer that was only discovered around Labor Day.

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"Every day, I was at the gym and at the hospital," Joe Goossen told The Times on Thursday in a telephone conversation from Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. "I didn't miss a day. Dan would not have wanted me to miss a day, and we discussed it.

"His last order of business -- the last marching order I got from him -- was to win the fight Saturday night."

Joe Goossen will lead Glendale's light-middleweight Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 knockouts) into the ring against Willie Nelson (23-1-1, 13 KOs) Saturday night in the main event of a Showtime-televised card that will air live at 6 p.m. PDT on Showtime East, and delayed at 9 p.m. on Showtime West.

Afterward, Goossen will return home in preparation for the public funeral of Dan Goossen at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. Francis DeSales Catholic Church, 13360 Valleyheart Drive, Sherman Oaks.

"I've tried not to lose focus," Joe Goossen said. "I mean, is Dan on my mind every second of the day? Yes. But I also know he was a workaholic and if I have a job to do, that's what I do."

Martirosyan is a classic Dan Goossen signee, a solid prospect who fought Cuba's Erislandy Lara to a draw in 2012 and then lost to Demetrius Andrade by split decision in November 2013 for the vacant World Boxing Organization 154-pound title.

That defeat made Martirosyan a free agent from his former promoter Top Rank, and Goossen signed him for a hopeful revival. With Joe training, Marirosyan beat Mario Lozano by unanimous decision in March, and they've stayed active in the gym since.

"Saturday night, he's looking down the barrel at a big fight that can put him the category of – not just for the money – but being one of the guys that can fight for a title," Joe Goossen said.

Training has focused on developing the 28-year-old's inside fighting skill.

"Vanes lacked the inside game so we've drilled working on the inside when the opportunity presents itself. Am I trying to make him an inside fighter? No, but with body work, uppercuts … we've had 150 rounds of sparring for this fight, 25 in the last two days. It's really progressed and tightened his technique."

There's comfort in talking about the craft, a distraction from a week of reading obituaries and tributes about his brother, seeing photos of the proud family man's big smile.

"I'm going to miss him because he's my brother," Joe Goossen said. "Dan was my other half in this game for the last 25 years. I didn't make a move without him. I was confident in him and always believed there was nothing he couldn't pull off. Even when I would say, 'Dan, are we going to fight this guy, that's the guy I really want?' He'd say, 'Oh, it doesn't look good,' but I always knew in the back of my mind he would get it done. It never failed that he would get it done."

One of Dan's nine siblings, who formed the company's original business, Ten Goose Boxing, called Dan Goossen the family's "rainmaker."

"He was the guy who came through, made everything happen," Joe Goossen said. "He made the parties happen, made the dinners happen, [fight-week] softball games happen, made the fights happen. He was really good at organizing everything he could for you, was bigger than life, he walked in a room and lit it up. Could talk to anyone and it meant something to him.

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"I'm going to miss that personality, that comfort, of knowing everything is going to be OK. Now, I feel like my better half in this business is not going to be here anymore. It's a strange feeling and I honestly don't know what to make of it."

In lieu of flowers, the Goossen family asks for donations in Dan's memory to the charity he established to honor his late brother -- The Greg Goossen '64 Scholarship Fund at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School, NDHS Goossen Fund, and mailed to NDHS, 13645 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks CA 91423.

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