Gennady Golovkin may be the most feared fighter in the world today, but Andre Rozier isn’t quite convinced. That’s not to say Rozier, who trains WBA secondary middleweight champion Danny Jacobs, 32-1 (29), doesn’t respect the prowess and accomplishments of the unified middleweight king. With a Golovkin-Jacobs spring showdown set up, the 52-year-old Brooklyn, New York native is brimming with confidence.
Much of that confidence stems from Rozier’s firm belief in destiny. He and Jacobs began working together when Danny was a child. Jacobs was once the hottest prospect in boxing before a shocking loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010 cooled the buzz off. Eight months later, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour and paralysed from the waist down. Jacobs was unsure if he’d walk again, let alone box. He’s since reeled off 12 consecutive wins, all inside the distance. According to Rozier, however, their story is far from over. Read on to hear what he had to say as he and his charge prepare for the biggest challenge of their career.
Golovkin just recently fought Kell Brook. Did you catch that fight and, as a trainer, what were your thoughts?
Well, I thought that if Brook was a bigger dude, there might have been some serious complications on that day for “GGG”. You see little things that happened and if they were done by someone else, a different fighter, the outcome would certainly be different.
When I trained Curtis Stevens against “GGG”, I expected the marauding, assaulting Curtis to perform. But it seems like after he got knocked down in the second, it sort of put him in a shell. He started coming out of that shell in the fifth round, when he began lacing “GGG” with some shots, but he didn’t keep it going. So I was really upset because when he had the moment to keep rising, he chose to put it in neutral instead of putting that sucker in drive. Danny won’t do that.
There are questions regarding Jacobs’ chin, based on the Pirog fight and the knockdown against Sergio Mora in their first bout. Is this a concern dealing with ‘GGG’s’ power?
“GGG” is going to have to worry about the power of Jacobs. They have virtually the same KO percentage. Danny is a lot faster than “GGG”. And he has better footwork.
When a fighter goes down he’ll either get up or lay out [laughs]. You can also learn from it. When Danny went in against Mora and got hit with that shot, he went in hot as a potato in an oven and Sergio caught him coming in. It had a lot to do with him overextending himself and getting caught off-balance. But he got back up and he did what he needed to do.
Needless to say, after the Peter Quillin fight, we weren’t excited about fighting Mora again when we had already stopped him. The rematch was just a washout. I had to calm Danny down in the corner because he was getting wild when Mora was running around the ring. I told him, “You almost hit me with one of those punches and I was sitting down!” But you see how many times we dropped him on his ass? Sergio was just trying to survive. I wouldn’t say it was a sharp performance but it was a dominant one. So yes, knockdowns can happen and you have to be on your p’s and q’s in boxing. We’re not going in there worried about what can happen when “GGG” hits us. That’s not the issue. We’re going to be hitting “GGG” and avoiding his responses over and over again.
When you look back at that Pirog fight in 2010, what do you think were the factors contributing to that loss?
Man that was a tough time for all of us. Danny was very close to his grandmother and she passed away three days before he fought. It was on his mind. He wasn’t there but he still was doing a good job in the ring that night once he got comfortable. But he wasn’t focused and got caught with a good shot. He did want to get up. I mean the whole incident, if you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see. When the referee waved the fight off at the count of three or four, Danny jumped up right away like, “Man, what are you doing? I’m alright!” It just was a bad time.
A lot of people don’t know that you are the creator and designer of Havoc Clothing. The fighting gear has been worn by everybody from Floyd Mayweather down to Danny Garcia today. Are you still focusing on that?
Havoc is my baby. It started from a mistake and it just flourished to what it is right now. I have a partner, Robert Diaz, who came on with the promotion end of the agency that we have and he began giving me a hand with the clothing line. But as far as the actual production, it’s still in my hands. I’m the creator of all the fashions that you see and it will probably be that way until the end of time.
You said it started from a mistake. What do you mean by that?
I used to train heavyweight contender Monte Barrett. He came to me as an amateur and when he started boxing, his aunt made some boxing trunks for him. They weren’t anything out of the ordinary but she made them for him so they were special. So I took them home with me one day after a fight and I put it in the closet. I don’t know what happened but a shelf in the closet fell and hit the trunks, ripping them up. So I told Monte what happened and that I would make him new trunks. He couldn’t stop laughing. When I told him I could sew, he laughed even harder.
I hadn’t sewed in a while but it’s like riding a bicycle, you just never forget. I cut some trunks up and I made them. When I brought them in he lost his mind! So that was the beginning of it. Monte would go out with those trunks and people would ask where he got them from. And he told them that his trainer made them. People started inquiring and it took off. I’m getting ready to work on Danny Garcia’s uniform for his next fight actually.
‘Dre, you’ve been around the sport for a pretty long time. In your opinion, what has changed since you came into the game?
One thing that I will say right away is that the European connection is much stronger. We have about eight European fighters. And let me tell you, they come here and train like their life depends on it. They’re not coming here to lose. They’re coming here to be world champions and are doing their very best to be that.
On the flip side, the guys here need to pick up the pace a little bit. You’ve got to maintain that Floyd Mayweather flow. I respect Mayweather to the utmost and whether or not he fights again, the bottom line is that I’ve never seen anyone give the kind of dedication to the sport that he does. That’s why he’s undefeated. He works like it’s his first fight and he can’t lose. So these guys need to adopt that attitude and stop fooling around, acting as if they’re superstars before they become superstars.
And your prediction for Golovkin vs Jacobs?
I am saying that we get a 12-round decision. If we do happen to inflict enough damage, it will be what we call, in the words of my dear brother Virgil Hunter, a mercy stoppage. It’s a stoppage where you’ve been beat up so much that they have to stop the fight. Make no mistake about it, we’re very confident that we will win.