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Abel Sanchez is the Latest Top-Tier Trainer to Be Bruised by a Ruptured Bond

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Abel Sanchez

Before his death at the age of 75 on Feb. 3, 2016, Richie Giachetti, the longest-tenured of longtime heavyweight champion Larry Holmes’ chief seconds, proudly spoke of the many contributions he had made in helping make the “Easton Assassin” the great fighter that he was. For his part, Holmes agreed with Giachetti’s glowing self-assessment, but only to a point. Although Holmes described Giachetti as a “master motivator” who deserves to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (something that has yet to happen), he declined to give him nearly as much credit as Giachetti reserved for himself.

“I think a trainer is very important at the beginning of a fighter’s career,” Holmes once said of his own professional evolution, and that of any champion who lingers long in the game and has used those years of experience to hone his craft to a point where nearly everything is done instinctively. “Over time, you don’t really need a trainer. You’ve got to train yourself. You’ve got to motivate yourself. And I don’t think anybody can put that in you but you. I don’t have trainers who want hundreds of thousands of dollars to train me.”

The bond between fighter and trainer can be strong and seemingly as unbreakable as forged steel, and it can be as tenuous as a slender and fraying thread. Sometimes, at alternate junctures in a shared journey, it can be both, as again was made evident when long-reigning former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin chose to end what had been a highly successful and mutually  beneficial nine-year relationship with trainer Abel Sanchez. At first glance, the break seems as shocking as the announcement in April 1970 that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had had a falling out and no longer would be making music together as Beatles.

In a prepared statement that was publicly released on Tuesday, the 37-year-old Golovkin, who on March 12 met with the media to announce that he had signed a lucrative contract with DAZN to fight six times for the subscriber-based streaming service through the end of 2021, said his long run with Sanchez had concluded. Sanchez was at “GGG’s” side for that occasion, but it now appears that that was the final time they would ever appear together as teammates, as it were, on a common quest.

“I would like to announce that I have made a major decision for myself and for my career,” Golovkin’s statement began. “I want to build on what I have already achieved and continue to better myself. Therefore, I will not be training with Abel Sanchez. This was not an easy decision for me and it is not a reflection of Abel’s professional abilities. He is a great trainer, a loyal trainer, and a Hall of Fame trainer.

“I will be announcing my new trainer at a later date. But today I want to thank Abel for the lessons he taught me in boxing.”

If the kind words of appreciation attributed to Golovkin sounded scripted, it’s because they probably were. The cold termination of what had seemed to be a warm and almost familial association is reminiscent of one of those old TV game shows where a departing contestant is handed a “nice parting gift” that isn’t really all that nice.

Contacted by RingTV.com, Sanchez said it was his belief that he was jettisoned for the same reason that so many other trainers in similar situations have been handed their walking papers. As Larry Holmes once noted, once you’ve attained a certain level in your career, why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone who has already taught you all you need to know?

“Money. That’s what the nature of it is, money,” Sanchez, hardly sounding conciliatory toward his now-former top pupil, said when asked for a reason that might have precipitated a breakup the trainer neither sought nor wanted. He said Golovkin’s new deal with DAZN would pay him just one-fifth of the cut of the Kazakhstan native’s purses he normally received.

“My dignity and pride wouldn’t allow me to do that after nine years of total commitment and taking him to where I’ve taken him. I don’t think I deserved that so I turned it down,” continued Sanchez, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2015 winner of the Eddie Futch Award as Trainer of the Year due largely to his work with Golovkin.

“Everything has been on a handshake basis, on a truthful basis. To be blindsided like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

Sanchez said that, over a period of about three weeks after the announcement of the deal with DAZN, he had an inkling of what eventually would go down. He said the decision to cut him loose was less GGG’s than of some members of the fighter’s inner circle.

There are, of course, legitimate and understandable reasons why fighters change trainers. And the reverse is also true, with trainers ditching fighters when it suits their purpose. Teddy Atlas, for one, has walked away from any number of fighters, including champions, because they could or would not adhere to his rigid dictums.  Money is a frequent cause for such professional divorces, as is the question of control.

Here are several examples of instances where well-known trainers were told by their equally or more famous fighters – and sometimes the other way around — that all good things at some point must come to an end:

Angelo Dundee ends long relationship with Sugar Ray Leonard

Leonard was coming off one of the most significant victories of his career, shocking middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler after a five-year layoff, when Dundee said he’d been vastly underpaid for that fight, for which he didn’t have a contract, and would only consent to be a part of the Sugar man’s challenge of WBC light heavyweight titlist Donny Lalonde (the vacant WBC super middleweight belt also was on the line) on Nov. 11, 1988, if he had a signed contract and thus would know beforehand what his financial compensation would be.

“Evidently I’m not necessary in the corner,” Dundee said of the dispute.  “They were offended because I had the audacity to have my lawyer call Mike Trainer’s office asking when I was going to be paid. I left it up to them for the Hagler fight. I depended on their generosity and I got one percent (of Leonard’s purse).”

Countered Leonard: “I’ll miss him. But what bothers me the most is the fact that I thought we had a special relationship. By the way things happened, I really don’t know if that relationship was valid at first. He’s like a family member to me. But when you hurt or destroy friendship, you lose it. It’s over.”

Although Dundee and Leonard never patched things up in a professional sense, they were able to let bygones be bygones. Leonard attended a 90th birthday celebration for Dundee on Aug. 30, 2011, five months before Angelo passed away.

“We talked about life. We talked about the fight game and reminisced about the special moments,” Leonard said of the restoration of their deep and abiding friendship. “He was a great guy to hang around with. You didn’t have to press a button to get him started, or to pause. Losing him puts into perspective how precious life is. I never thought we’d lose him, even at the age of 90. He had so much zest, so much enthusiasm about life, his next project, next fight or fighter and who he was helping to either remain or become a champion.”

Freddie Roach fired by Manny Pacquiao

The relationship of Roach and Pacquiao lasted much longer – almost twice as long, in fact, at 16 years – as that between Sanchez and Golovkin. But “Pac-Man” apparently took umbrage to a suggestion from Roach after he lost a close and disputed unanimous decision, and his WBO welterweight title, to Jeff Horn on July 2, 2017, in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia.  Roach’s transgression? Suggesting that Pacquiao’s roles as a legendary fighter and a senator in the Philippines each might be so demanding that he could not do justice to both, and thus would be well-advised to choose one or the other.

“Being a prize fighter is difficult, but being a world champion is so incredibly difficult,” Roach reasoned. “It takes just about all of your time and focus and energy, and I can’t imagine being able to do it and having another job.

“I didn’t know Manny was mad about that when I said it. I wish he had said something to me about it so we could have spoken to each other. But I have no complaints because my life is so much better in so many ways because of Manny Pacquiao.”

With Roach removed, Pacquiao’s good friend, Buboy Fernandez, was his trainer for his next bout, a seventh-round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse. But Roach would not be away for long, nor did many people familiar with their bond anticipate that that would be the case. “They’re like a married couple and it’s like they had a trial separation,” opined Justin Fortune, Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach. So Roach was back for Pacquiao’s most recent bout, a wide points nod over Adrien Broner, but in an advisory role with Fernandez remaining the trainer of record. That again will be the case should the proposed pairing of Pacquiao, the “regular” WBA welterweight champion, and WBA “super” welterweight ruler Keith Thurman be finalized.

Bouie Fisher, Bernard Hopkins clash over compensation

Despite once describing long-enduring middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins as “like my son,” veteran Philadelphia trainer Bouie Fisher sided with his actual sons, James and Andre, in a dispute with B-Hop over how much money Fisher should have received for services already rendered or to be rendered in the future.

“Bernard is a difficult person to deal with,” Fisher said in 2005, after being fired by Hopkins. “He wants all the glory, he wants all the credit, he wants all the money. It’s all about him, him, him.”

That is not how Hopkins saw it, and, as was the case with Angelo Dundee’s late reconciliation with Sugar Ray Leonard, the fighter was there when his former trainer and father figure was hospitalized and close to death shortly before he passed away, at 83, on June 30, 2011. When Fisher briefly opened his eyes, Hopkins stepped back and began shadowboxing, the older man’s eyes suggesting a glint of recognition.

“Even though me and Bouie fell out – me and his sons fell out even more – I had mad respect for what I’ve been taught (by Fisher),” Hopkins said. “I looked at Bouie Fisher like a father, and I still do. I learned a lot from him. I don’t let disagreements and stuff outside of boxing overshadow years, even decades, of the good.”

Floyd Mayweather Sr. fired by Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The elder Mayweather had trained his son from an early age, but all that changed when Floyd Sr. was found guilty of illegal drug trafficking in 1993 and sent to prison. Floyd Sr.’s brother, former super featherweight and super lightweight champion Roger Mayweather, took over as Floyd Jr.’s trainer and he guided the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist to the WBC super featherweight  championship, his  first world title, in 1998. But upon Floyd Sr.’s release he resumed the handling of his son’s career, and some of past friction between them soon became apparent.

At the beginning of 2000, Floyd Jr. fired his father as his manager. After one more fight together, Floyd Jr. also fired him as his trainer. Not only that, but the son banned his dad from his training facility, evicted him from a home Floyd Jr. owned and repossessed the car Floyd Sr. was driving. They didn’t speak again for nearly seven years although, in a sure sign that blood really is thicker than water, they again came together much deeper into Floyd Jr.’s record-setting career as the highest-grossing boxer ever.

Jack Mosley fired by son Shane Mosley

In more than a few instances, the trainer becomes a handy scapegoat, and a handy candidate to get pinned with the blame when a fighter’s career takes a downward turn. That can even happen when the trainer is the fighter’s father. “Sugar” Shane Mosley had lost three of his four most recent bouts when he decided he needed to go in a different direction, and in March 2004 he dismissed his father, Jack Mosley, as his trainer. Jack had trained Shane from the time he laced up his first pair of gloves at the age of eight.

In a prepared statement, Shane wrote that “I am going to miss working with my father. Together, we scaled many mountains and I would never have had the success I have had if he had not been there to guide and teach me every step of the way. He is, without question, one of the all-time great trainers. More importantly, he is has been a great father who I love very much.

“However, the time has come for my father and I to sever our professional relationship so that I can try some new avenues designed to give my fans the Sugar Shane Mosley they deserve.”

Tyson Fury cans his uncle, Peter Fury

Peter Fury, Tyson Fury’s uncle, was there for the crowning moment of his nephew’s boxing career, on Nov. 28, 2016, when the “Gypsy King” stunned the world by scoring a unanimous decision over IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“Happiest times of our lives,” the uncle said of the conquest of the long-reigning Klitschko.

But Peter’s influence didn’t extend so far that he could prevent Tyson from going on an epic binge of overeating, boozing and cocaine snorting that turned his moment of glory into an ongoing train wreck. Peter said he did what he could to halt the freefall, but Tyson had fallen under the spell of “unscrupulous mates” who got him drunk and high every night.

Maybe that’s why, when Tyson decided to get serious again about boxing, he rid himself of a hundred or so excess pounds, his taste for nose candy and alcoholic beverages, and, oh, yes, the uncle-trainer who had taken him to the top of the boxing mountain.  Peter was replaced as chief second by the much-younger Ben Davison, whom Tyson has referred to as the “Energizer bunny.”

“Peter is my uncle and I’ll do anything for him,” the cleaned-up Tyson Fury said of the change in his corner. “We worked together well, but sometimes a change is as good as anything else. We were maybe getting a bit stale in the gym, going through the same things over. We’re still talking, we haven’t fell out. I’m just branching out a little bit. For sure, I may work with Peter again. He has the experience, the knowledge. But at the moment, (Davison) is the man in charge.”

Mike Tyson fires Kevin Rooney

Tyson was coming off his signature victory, the first-round knockout of Michael Spinks on June 27, 1988, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, and the trainer who had been with him since the launching of his pro career a little more than three years earlier was there to soak in more of the adulation both had become accustomed to. But little did Rooney know that his giddy ride with Tyson was about to end, ostensibly because Tyson’s promoter, Don King, was laying the groundwork to get rid of the trainer – the last link to Tyson’s past and his late mentor, Cus D’Amato – and replace him with the tag team of King sycophants Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright.

Rooney didn’t help his cause with his determination to fill a bigger cup with the flood of money being generated by Tyson, a not unreasonable expectation that one writer described as his being “financially ambitious.” So Rooney and his ambition were soon gone, any hope of his ever being replaced forever shattered when, on Oct. 1, 1996, a court ordered Tyson to pay his former trainer $4.4 million for breach of contract.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury on Feb. 26 in a Potential Pay-Per-View Blockbuster

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It’s now official. The twice-postponed “grudge match” between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will come to fruition on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. An 8-rounder contested at a catch-weight of 185 pounds, the match and several supporting bouts will air in the U.S. on ESPN+ PPV at a cost of $49.99.

The hook for this promotion – a come-hither that will be hammered home incessantly in the coming weeks – is that Jake Paul will finally touch gloves with a legitimate professional boxer. Paul’s previous opponents were a fellow YouTube influencer (AnEsonGib), a retired NBA player (Nate Robinson), and three former MMA champions: Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva. He fought Woodley twice.

Tommy Fury, the half-brother of reigning WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, made his pro debut in December of 2018 in a four-round bout in his hometown of Manchester. He was two fights into his pro career when he became a contestant on the TV reality show “Love Island.” An enormously popular show in Great Britain, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic, “Love Island” was in its fifth season.

Fury was paired with supermodel Molly-Mae Hague with whom he finished second. They developed a great chemistry, on and off the set, became engaged, and purportedly welcomed a baby girl this week.

What about Tommy Fury the boxer? How legitimate is he?

Fury’s record currently stands at 8-0 (4 KOs). His first opponent was a professional loser from Latvia whose current ledger reads 10-113-3. His next six opponents were a combined 4-73-2. Finally, in his last fight, which occurred in April of last year, he met an opponent with a good record, Poland’s Daniel Bocianski, who was 10-1. But look closer and one discovers that all but one of Bocianski’s 10 triumphs came against opponents with losing records. The exception was a 6-round decision over a fellow Pole whose record currently stands at 18-16-1 and who has been stopped 13 times.

Fury bloodied Bocianski and won a wide 6-round decision, but his performance was underwhelming. “Fury had the Hollywood teeth, tan, and diamante-colored shorts,” wrote Chasinga Malata of the London Sun, “leaving only his performance without sheen and sparkle.”

There is nothing in Tommy Fury’s background, aside from his biological pedigree, to suggest that he has the tools to become a world-class boxer. If he were a member of the Three Stooges, he would be Shemp.

Jake Paul, by contrast, may actually be legit. Those in the know that have watched him train have come away impressed. It says here that Paul isn’t moving up in class on Feb. 26; it’s the other way around.

In the co-feature, Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBC world cruiserweight title against Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs). A Congolese-South African, Makabu is the older brother of heavyweight contender Martin Bakole. Jack, four years older than Makabu at age 39, formerly held world titles at 168 and 175 pounds.

Although Badou Jack was born in Sweden and keeps a home in Las Vegas where he has long been affiliated with the Mayweather Boxing Club, he will have the home field advantage in Saudi Arabia where he has cultivated a loyal following. A devout Muslim, Jack will be making his fourth straight start in the Persian Gulf Region. In his last outing, he outpointed Richard “Popeye” Rivera at Jeddah, winning a 10-round split decision.

Badou Jack

Badou Jack

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 223: A Lively Weekend in SoCal with Three Fight Cards in Two Days

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Big money prizefighting returns to the Los Angeles area with back-to-back shows. First, Serhii Bohachuk heads a 360 Promotions card on Friday and then Alexis Rocha is featured on Saturday in a Golden Boy Promotions production. And on the same day Riverside’s Saul Rodriguez fights in his hometown.

Bohachuk, Rocha, and Rodriguez are aggressive big hitters.

Ukraine’s Bohachuk seeks to regain footing in the super welterweight division. He was rapidly climbing up the ratings ladder when first he was defeated by Brandon Adams two years ago. And then the invasion of his home country Ukraine stalled him even more.

On Friday Jan. 27, at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Calif. Bohachuk (21-1, 21 KOs) meets Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1, 17 KOs) in the main event. UFC Fight Pass will stream the 360 Boxing Promotions card.

Few fighters are as well-liked outside of the prize ring as Bohachuk. Always amiable, he’s one of the handful of fighters that always smiles. Inside the ring, he’s a killer. No one leaves without someone getting knocked out.

Gallimore, 34, is no slouch. He has a knockout win over former world titlist Jeison Rosario and has battled almost all of the top super welterweights. He is a veteran and very crafty.

The Quiet Cannon venue is not very large, but it does have a patio and good food and drink. Most of the crowd ventures from all over Southern California to attend the fights at that venue. It gets packed.

Golden Boy in Inglewood

Welterweight contender Alexis Rocha headlines the Golden Boy Promotions card on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the brand new YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif. DAZN will stream the fight card.

Rocha (21-1, 13 KOs) faces George Ashie (33-5-1) in the main event set for 12 rounds. Finally, there is an opponent for the left-handed fighter from Santa Ana. It didn’t look like he was going to fight after opponent after opponent fell out for one reason or another.

“You have to be ready for anybody they put in front of you. If it’s you or George Ashie, I have to prepare for it. I have to focus on what I can do,” said Rocha.

Others on the card include super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev (10-1) vs Ulises Sierra (17-2-2) set for 10 rounds. Also, good looking lightweight prospect Floyd Schofield (12-0, 10 KOs) meets Alberto Mercado (17-4-1).

Schofield fights out of Austin, Texas and looks like someone to watch.

Doors open at 3 p.m.

Neno Returns in San Bernardino        

Garcia Promotions stages a boxing card on Saturday Jan. 28, at the Club Event Center in San Bernardino. Garcia Promotions is associated with trainer Robert Garcia and family whose training compound is located in nearby Riverside.

A primarily local fight card featuring all fighters from Garcia’s gym will be performing.

Headlining is Saul “Neno” Rodriguez out of Riverside, California.

It’s been nearly three years since Rodriguez (24-1-1, 18 KOs) last fought and he faces Mexico’s Juan Meza Angulo (6-1, 3 KOs) in the co-main event.

At one time Rodriguez was a big fan favorite because of his fast work and knockout ability. Once he got to the top plateau he ran into another knockout puncher in Miguel Angel Gonzalez and lost by stoppage.

Prizefighting is a tricky road. One loss can mean difficulty in finding a big-time promoter or it can mean discovering what you need to do to re-establish your skills. A fighter can go the road of Kermit “The Killer” Cintron and find out other ways to win without a kill-or be-killed style. Or they can travel the road of Marco Antonio Barrera who was knocked out by Junior Jones but adapted a more boxer-puncher style that allowed him to defeat Erik Morales twice and Prince Naseem Hamed.

Rodriguez, 29, still has time to make a good run for a title bid. It all starts on Saturday.

Others on the Garcia Promotions card are fighters who are part of trainer Garcia’s stable including Gabriel Muratalla, Leonardo Ruiz, Jose Rodriguez and others.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with amateurs opening the boxing program.

Fights to Watch

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Serhii Bohachuk (21-1) vs Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 11:30 a.m. Artur Beterbiev (18-0) vs Anthony Yarde (23-2).

Sat. DAZN  5 p.m. Alexis Rocha (21-1) vs George Ashie (33-5-1).

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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