Upset over alleged favoritism toward Canelo, GGG's trainer wants thorough investigation of Alvarez's failed PED tests

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Trainer Abel Sanchez poses with IBF-WBA-WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who will meet Canelo Alvarez in a big-money rematch on May 5 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

A minor controversy has erupted between middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin‘s trainer, Abel Sanchez, and the Nevada Athletic Commission, which will oversee the Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch on May 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Sanchez said “certain commissions in this game are very lenient toward certain fighters,” and said Nevada has been lenient toward Alvarez. Sanchez is still upset because he alleges that inspectors for the Nevada commission allowed Alvarez to use a hand-wrapping technique called stacking, which he says is illegal, before Golovkin’s fight with Alvarez on Sept. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Sanchez pointed out that isn’t the first time Alvarez, who has fought 10 times previously in Las Vegas, has received favorable treatment from the Nevada commission. He mentioned two controversial scoring decisions. Judge C.J. Ross scored the Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather fight on Sept. 14, 2013, a draw even though the other judges had it 9-3 and 8-4 in favor of Mayweather. Then, last year, judge Adalaide Byrd scored the first Alvarez-Golovkin fight 10-2 in favor of Alvarez, and was briefly benched by Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Alvarez twice tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol last month, which he blamed on eating contaminated meat in Mexico. The Nevada commission is conducting an investigation into that, Bennett said.

“My biggest concern is that it doesn’t get brushed under the rug and that it’s investigated and that the experts, of which I’m not one, look into it as thoroughly as they would if it were Golovkin who tested positive,” Sanchez said. “It just seems there are certain commissions in this game that are very lenient toward certain fighters, Texas being one of them, Nevada being the other. Certain fighters get relaxed rules, I guess you could say, and everyone else has to follow certain rules.

“This time, this is a big enough event that the commission needs to seriously investigate all that has happened in the past. I know he’s never tested positive before this, but this stuff [Clenbuterol], it’s not something you start using because of a whim. People who are cheaters, if he is, and I’m not saying it’s not the beef, because it could be the meat, but let’s make this investigation go deep, because you just don’t start all of a sudden using that.”

Sanchez said he still believes Nevada allowed Alvarez to wrap his hands illegally before the first fight with Golovkin, which was scored a split draw. Sanchez protested loudly at the time and said he was nearly thrown out of the room by an inspector for the Nevada commission, though he wasn’t certain of the inspector’s name.

“They put the gauze on his hand and he put one layer of gauze on the hand and then they put the tape on top of the gauze,” Sanchez said. “Immediately, I caught that and I said, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! That’s illegal. He can’t do that.’ And the inspector looked at me and said, ‘Yes, he can do that.’ It’s called stacking and it’s illegal and you can’t do that. It’s creating a cast. We kept going back and forth to the point where he threatened to throw me out of the room.

“But they put a layer of gauze on and then two or three layers of tape on top of that, and then gauze and tape again. That’s illegal.”

Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. (Getty Images)

Sanchez said he had a meeting with Bennett, along with Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler, after the fight, but said he got no satisfaction.

It’s not likely he’s going to get any this time around, either. Anthony Marnell, the chairman of the commission, wasn’t of a mind to discuss the particulars on the record, but he said Nevada insists on fairness. He said the way Alvarez wraps his hands is legal and has been permitted in Nevada “for decades.”

“We have done more for Abel than we have done for any other member of any other camp, in terms of listening to his concerns and trying to understand them,” Marnell said. “What I can tell you is this: Nevada has stayed true and consistent to its hand wrap policies for a long time and we’ll continue to be that way. This isn’t just a thing with me; this has been the policy in Nevada regarding wraps for years, for decades.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s the same song on a different day from a different voice. We will continue to enforce our policy as we always have and if that upsets Abel, well, there are other places to fight. I don’t see it changing for May 5; well, I can guarantee it won’t change for May 5.”

Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, said fighters have wrapped their hands the way Alvarez does in Nevada for years. He said Golden Boy founder Oscar De La Hoya, who fought the majority of his major bouts in Las Vegas, wrapped his hands exactly the same way as Alvarez, with no issues.

Gomez said it was inexperience on Sanchez’s part.

“Abel doesn’t have experience fighting in Vegas, but this is how it has been for all of Canelo’s fights, and even for Oscar’s fights,” Gomez said. “Canelo’s had maybe 15 fights in Vegas (actually 10, with May 5 being the 11th) and he’s always done his hand wraps the same way. Oscar did it that way. Floyd [Mayweather] did it that way. Just because Abel wraps differently doesn’t mean that wrapping another way is illegal. He just hasn’t been in Vegas before and so he doesn’t know the procedures.

“Ultimate, we will abide by the rules of the commission, as we always have, but I don’t expect anything to change for Canelo because this has always been OK in Vegas. We have never had issues until Abel made a stink about it, so that should tell you something.”

Trainer Abel Sanchez wraps Gennady Golovkin’s hands prior to a workout at Microsoft Square at LA Live in Los Angeles last year. (Getty Images)