"It was very tough, very tough," Golovkin told Sports Illustrated once. "My family, it really tore us up."
Later, in a discussion about his rising popularity as a sporting hero, Golovkin corrected a reporter, insisting he's in no way a hero.
"Because in Kazakhstan, true life -- it is hard," Max said. "He is not a hero, but our brothers are. Gennady knows there are things in life that are more important than boxing."
Gennady is also fighting for Max.
As they turned 18, their family could only afford to send one of the boys into an amateur boxing career.
"They chose Gennady should continue his career," Max said.
What disappointment once existed has converted to a tightened brotherhood in a needed role for Max to discuss with Gennady all the things he'd keep hidden from public view, like the sudden death of their father, Gennady, two years ago at his Kazakhstan home.
"We are very close," Max said. "In boxing, it means we already have a game plan that I, Gennady and Abel know about. When the boxing starts, if they need me very quickly a few moments during the match, my voice is very important to Gennady."
It has helped bring the pair to this seminal moment, the fight against Alvarez in a world so far from where they've climbed.
"Gennady's No. 1 fan was our father," Max said.
"Of course, it means a lot to him to fight for each of their memories. It will motivate him. And it would be great if they were here."
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