Gennadiy Golovkin is in better shape than most guys his age.
He’s an athletically fit 40-year-old who is lean and muscular at 160 pounds and has been consistently able to stand in with middleweights a decade younger and beat them into submission.
Still, he’s closer to the end than the beginning.
Whether he concedes it or not.
And with a trilogy fight against Canelo Alvarez on the late-summer horizon, he’s certainly used to being asked about whether he’s planning to call it quits, perhaps after a career-defining win.
But he’s not quite ready to pull the trigger on finality.
“It’s hard for me to say,” he said. “I will continue until I stop feeling I can show the best of me, the best boxing at this top level. I will continue until my body tells me to stop.
“I also have three belts at 160, so the victory or the loss in this upcoming fight (at 168 pounds) is not going to affect my decision about when to retire. It’s about being honest with myself, listening to my body to my mind and to feel when it tells you to stop. And then you stop.”
Indeed, though the third go-round with his Mexican rival will be contested at super middleweight with Alvarez’s four titles on the line, the Kazakh veteran is still the IBF and WBA title-holder at middleweight and will have the option to return to 160 to defend or perhaps attempt to unify with fellow claimants Jermall Charlo (WBC) and Demetrius Andrade (WBO).
Golovkin and BoxingScene.com sat down for a Zoom video chat to discuss his relationship with Alvarez, his ring legacy, and the ways he’ll ensure he’s 100 percent on fight night in spite of comparative inactivity.
BoxingScene.com: The third fight with Alvarez has been an off-and-on thing for what feels like several years now. Did you still think it was going to happen or had you let it go at some point?
Gennadiy Golovkin: At some point I stopped hoping that this fight was going to take place because there were certain obligations, contractual obligations, that were broken, there were some legal issues that came about, and then the pandemic began. So indeed, I stopped hoping at some point. But eventually this fight materialized and I’m very happy that it is going to take place now.
BoxingScene.com: Do you still think it would have happened had he not lost to Bivol?
Golovkin: Knowing certain details, I believe that I thought that this fight would take place regardless of the outcome of the Bivol-Canelo fight. And on the other hand, his loss in his last fight probably brought him back to reality. It probably taught him to treat boxing more seriously.
BoxingScene.com: One of the signature elements of this fight is the change in the relationship between you guys. What are the causes? To what do you attribute it?
Golovkin: I don’t even know how to explain it. Maybe it’s just the side effects of certain substances in the body. But I treat it as a sporting event, nothing personal. But the words that he chooses to say are unexplainable. Inexplicable.
BoxingScene.com: When we talked before the Murata fight this spring, you said you didn’t think the rivalry with Alvarez would be a determining factor in your legacy. Now that a third fight is signed, do you still feel that way?
Golovkin: My answer to your question before the fight in Japan was an honest answer. I back then did not believe it was important and I still think that it is not going to affect my legacy in any negative way. It would be just an excellent addition to my achievements if I deliver to my opponent and I get what I deserve. On the other hand, I believe that I will not lose anything. It is not going to tarnish my legacy even if I fail to win to this fight. I will still be happy. It will just be my legacy that will stay with me, just without this additional goal.
BoxingScene.com: He’s fought eight times in the four years since you last met and you’ve fought four times, with two significant layoffs. Does that matter, and how do you make sure you are 100 percent come September?
Golovkin: I don’t think that I would need to demonstrate to somebody or prove anything to anybody. I believe I need to be myself and do my job and I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anybody. He became a more active fighter because he became the focus of his promoter who was able to bring him back and reshuffle his card deck. It will not affect me much.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBO junior bantamweight title – Tokyo, Japan
Kazuto Ioka (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Donnie Nietes (No. 1 WBO/No. 9 IWBR)
Ioka (28-2, 15 KO): Fifth title defense; Lost to Nietes (SD 12) in WBO title fight in 2018
Nietes (43-1-6, 23 KO): Twentieth title fight (17-0-2); Has held titles at 105, 108, 112 and 115 pounds
Fitzbitz says: The two fought to a razor-thin split decision in Nietes’ favor, but it was more than three years ago and Nietes has gotten older and been inactive since. That’s enough. Ioka by decision (70/30)
This week’s trash title-fight schedule:
WBA “world” minimum title – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Erick Rosa (champion/No. 5 IWBR) vs. Carlos Ortega (No. 12 WBA/No. 34 IWBR)
Why it’s trash: It’s the WBA, so it’s the usual baloney. The organization’s top man is, and has been, Thammanoon Niyomtrong (Knockout CP Freshmart) for most of the last six years. So as good as Rosa might be after just five pro fights, he’s not the champ until he beats the champ. Ignore it.
Last week's picks: 0-1 (LOSS: Magsayo)
2022 picks record: 20-10 (66.7 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,229-402 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.