Veteran trainer Abel Sanchez doesn’t exactly approve of the stylistic changes his former charge, Gennadiy Golovkin, has made to his approach in the ring.

Sanchez, who runs a gym out of the mountains of Big Bear, California, is particularly well-known for his work with former mentee and current IBF, IBO middleweight titlist Golovkin. Under Sanchez’s guidance, the Kazakh captured the imagination of the boxing public throughout the 2010s with his punching prowess.

Sanchez and Golovkin cut their long-standing ties, however, shortly after the Canelo Alvarez rematch in 2018, which Alvarez won by decision, due to disagreement over compensation.

Still, Sanchez feels Golovkin is only one of three fighters who has the ability to hand a defeat to the Mexican superstar and current unified 168-pound titlist.

Sanchez, however, offered one caveat as it relates to Golovkin: to beat Alvarez, he needs to cut out the finesse and re-adopt the aggressive modus operandi that made him one of the most popular names in boxing in the past decade.

“I think there are three guys who can give Canelo a hard time,” Sanchez told “It’s [IBF and WBC 175-pound titleholder Artur] Beterbiev, because he’s the bigger man, and [168-pound contender] David Benavidez and Gennadiy Golovkin. The only reason that Gennadiy can beat Canelo is if he gets in the shape he used to be in. In my opinion, he’s trying to be someone that he’s not right now.”

Golovkin may get his chance at exacting some measure of revenge against Alvarez later this fall but it depends on whether or not he comes out victorious against his scheduled April 9 title defense against Japan’s Ryota Murata in the Tokyo vicinity. Alvarez recently agreed to a two-fight deal with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing to appear on DAZN, the streaming platform with which Golovkin has contractual ties. If Alvarez defeats light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol on May 7, and Golovkin defeats Murata, then Alvarez and Golovkin will face each other in September.

Sanchez believes that Golovkin has gone away from his strengths in the years since their fallout.

“He’s not a boxer,” Sanchez said of Golovkin. “Gennadiy Golovkin is going to walk you down and beat the hell out of you, put you out of there, or beat you up so bad that you can’t continue. In my opinion he's trying to be something that he’s not. He’s giving away too many advantages to the other guys.”

Since leaving Sanchez, Golovkin has worked exclusively with former heavyweight contender Johnathon Banks and has been victorious in each of his three outings. His 2019 clash with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, however, was close and controversial. Sanchez, however, does not think Banks alone is responsible for Golvokin’s changes.

“He’s got a great coach in Johnathon,” Sanchez continued. “But a lot of the things that are being done now are not only Johnathon’s ideas but Gennadiy’s ideas. I think that he wants to prove to everybody that he can box and he did that in the second fight with Canelo.

“I think that Golovkin’s strengths are his strengths, when he walks you down and makes you succumb to what he’s got. That’s how you’re successful.”

In the Alvarez rematch, Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) often fought on the backfoot, while Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) came forward, contrary to public expectation; Alvarez won a controversial, razor-thin majority decision. Their first fight, a draw, raised even more outrage, as many believed Golovkin deserved to win.

Sanchez thinks Golovkin, who turns 40 in April, would have an easier time in the ring, if he goes back to his former ways.

“He doesn’t have the miles that other guys have,” Sanchez said. “But what he’s doing now, he’s creating difficult fights when he doesn’t have to be in difficult fights. But he’s still Gennadiy Golovkin, a heck of an athlete, a heck of a puncher. There are gonna be very few guys who can stay with him. The only bad thing now is that he’s taking more punishment than he should.”