WHEN Serik Sapiyev speaks, you have to listen. He is one of Kazakhstan’s finest boxers. He won everything going, including the 2012 Olympic Games where he received the Val Barker trophy for best boxer of the tournament. Then he quit the sport. Speaking to Boxing News at the Barys Arena in Astana at the Women’s World championships, Sapiyev reflected on Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and the path he chose.
“Because I reached my dream. My coaches, my close friends, relatives advised me to finish. I finished at the top. I think it’s the best point to stop your career,” he said.
His countryman, Gennady Golovkin was a decorated amateur and turned professional where, now the holder of three major titles, he has enjoyed great success. But Sapiyev did not choose that path. “A few promotions, managers invited me to the professionals, I decided I reached all tournaments, all titles in the amateurs and I decided I wouldn’t try professional boxing. Maybe in my soul I wanted to go but decided to finish, to take care of my health, to work as a manager, an employer, not as a boxer,” Serik explained. “They need to manage themselves in America and in Kazakhstan our federation manages boxers, manages coaches, gives them facilities for training. They don’t worry about training, about trips, tournaments, it’s the federation. As a professional you do it yourself. This [staying in the Olympic sport] is our preference.”
On Golovkin he reflects, “He’s very strong. He’s not American, first, he doesn’t make big money like American boxers. He’s very strong but doesn’t make [big] money… And all of Golovkin’s opponents won’t fight. Like maybe regarding [Canelo] Alvarez, he wants to fight, but managers now [tell him] it’s very difficult, dangerous to fight with Golovkin and Alvarez’s team, if they fight and Alvarez lost, they will earn not much money right now. Alvarez I think did the right step. Alvarez was right: ‘I will fight, but not today’. Then after three, four, five [years], like Pacquiao-Mayweather, Golovkin will be older, Alvarez becoming better and better, maybe there will be the fight after three years, two years when Alvarez team will see Golovkin’s condition [has decreased].”
That’s not to say Sapiyev found it easy to hang up his gloves. “First two years I very much missed boxing. After the Olympic Games, in 2013, were the World championships in Almaty,” he recalled. “I missed it, it was bad. After the championships I went to London to study.”
He attend Brunel university, where he studied sports management. He went back to the city where he’d enjoyed his defining moment in boxing but refreshed himself, with new friends and a different kind of life. “I always like to go to London,” he says, “because part of my soul is in London.”
For more from Serik Sapiyev don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News magazine