As angry as unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez have been at each other during the lead-up to their rematch, the feud between Alvarez and Abel Sanchez, GGG's trainer, has been just as intense.
There is good reason for Golovkin and Alvarez to have bitter feelings toward each other heading into their much-anticipated sequel Sept. 15 (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the same venue where Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a highly controversial draw last September.
A lot has happened since, namely Alvarez failing two drug tests in February for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol, which caused him to be suspended for six months and their May 5 rematch to be canceled.
Kazakhstan's Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs), 36, who fights out of Santa Monica, California, went ahead and faced replacement opponent Vanes Martirosyan on that date and smoked him in two rounds, after which the rematch with Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), 28, of Mexico, was renegotiated and rescheduled for Sept. 15, the same Mexican Independence Day weekend they fought on last year.
Golovkin and Alvarez have traded harsh words -- after a respectful buildup to the first fight -- because GGG believes Alvarez purposely used PEDs for that earlier meeting, though he did not fail a test, as well in training for the fight that was supposed to take place in May. Alvarez has steadfastly denied he had clenbuterol in his system on purpose, and has said that the test results were the product of his eating contaminated beef in Mexico.
But the roots of the Canelo-Sanchez feud are not related to the drug-testing scandal. It's all about Alvarez's fighting style.
Over and over since the rematch was put back together, Sanchez has needled Alvarez for fighting in a style he claims is unbecoming of a Mexican warrior. Sanchez has hurled what many Mexican boxers might view as the ultimate insult -- saying that he ran from GGG and did not stand and fight like a man.
"I hope Canelo was able to see a transmission specialist for the rematch, because in the first fight he was stuck in reverse," Sanchez said in one recent quip deriding his fellow Mexican. "All I know is that after the first fight the fans were not booing Gennady Golovkin. The rematch took long to make because Canelo takes long to heal and had long memories of the first fight."
In another assault on Alvarez's fighting style, Sanchez said, "All those same things were said prior to the first fight [about going for a knockout] and it ended up being a track meet. I think that on [Sept. 15] when [Golden Boy promoter] Oscar [De La Hoya] and Canelo are having breakfast, Oscar needs to remind him he needs to bring his courage to the venue that night because he's going to need it. If he intends to knock out Golovkin, he's going to have to fight him. And if he fights him, he's going to get knocked out. I said that before; he would have gotten knocked out the first time, but he decided to make it a track meet that night.
"But if he comes to fight and if he comes to knock out Golovkin as he said he's going to -- if he doesn't defraud the fans again -- then he's going to get knocked out. I've said it and I'll say it again."
Sanchez has continued on and on about Alvarez's style, though he has always been a counterpuncher at heart and not the straight brawler some make him out to be. But it hasn't stopped Sanchez.
"I hope Canelo was able to see a transmission specialist for the rematch, because in the first fight he was stuck in reverse." Abel Sanchez on Canelo Alvarez's fighting style in his 2017 meeting with Gennady Golovkin
"I hope he's more aggressive," Sanchez said. "The fans deserve it so they can see a better fight.
It's impossible to knock somebody out when they run. Don't run."
Sanchez also came up with one shot at Alvarez in which he invoked NBA great Michael Jordan, whose Jordan Brand is one of Golovkin's sponsors.
"I talked to Jordan about it and asked if he could make us some shoes so that we can go a bit faster and are able to catch him," Sanchez said. "I hope for the fans that he puts on the fight that he said he was going to do the first time."
Golovkin, who has had plenty to say about Alvarez and his failed drug tests, also chimed in on Sanchez's assessment of the way he fought last year.
"It was his fighting style earlier, not just in the September fight," GGG said. "He always has a way of running in the ring, but it was his style. However, what happened on our last fight, he was really avoiding fighting close to me. I think that's exactly what happened, but what he's trying to say right now, it just proves that he's not keeping his word.
"He's trying to deceive people again, and being dishonest. But it doesn't matter what he said. Let him say whatever he wants."
Given Golovkin's devastating punching power, it would be foolish for any fighter to stand and trade with him, so perhaps Sanchez is simply trying to get into Alvarez's head and hoping that he will try to prove a point by fighting GGG in a more straight-ahead manner than he did last fall.
Canelo, while coming off as clearly annoyed by Sanchez's attacks, has maintained his cool when questioned about the way he fought against Golovkin and about Sanchez's comments.
"Comments from Sanchez don't really bother me because he actually thinks he's a great trainer, but he doesn't know what boxing is," Alvarez said. "He doesn't know what it is to have technique. He doesn't know what it is to box or to move. He doesn't know what it means to adapt to the circumstances of a fight and not just go forward and throw punches. What I do is box. I find it strange that someone who believes himself to be a great trainer does not know how to distinguish between having technique and what he's saying.
"It's one thing to be coming forward like a donkey and it's another thing to be moving, dodging punches, counterpunching, and even staying on the ropes without him hitting you. I hope he goes back to his house and realizes what I've been saying about him -- that he's a dumbass. The first fight have has given me the confidence that I will win this fight. If I work [Golovkin] well throughout the fight, I can knock him out."
Chepo Reynoso, Alvarez's manager and assistant trainer, has also lashed out at Sanchez.
"I think Abel Sanchez likes to talk. He talks too much. At the end of the day it's going to be Canelo Alvarez and GGG fighting with their fists and not with their mouths. He likes to be the star of the movie, and it's not him," Reynoso said. "This is about Canelo and GGG. And what we need to do as corner men, as trainers, is do our job quietly because it's not about us. Abel, learn to be quiet, please."