GENNADY GOLOVKIN’S ever-increasing popularity is “a thorn” in Floyd Mayweather’s side, according to the Kazakh’s trainer Abel Sanchez.

The unbeaten 34-year-old faces the toughest test of his career next weekend when he defends his WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles against Daniel Jacobs in New York.

Rising from relative obscurity, ‘GGG’ has made himself one of the most marketable fighters in the sport today and Sanchez was not moved by Mayweather’s recent put-downs of his man, when the retired American picked Canelo Alvarez to beat Golovkin should they meet in the future.

“We don’t get frustrated.  It just shows me that he [Mayweather] thinks more about Golovkin by talking about him and his deficiencies than talking about the mutt he wants to fight,” he said.

“I think Floyd having GGG’s name in his head is a thorn in his side that keeps him from being loved and will keep him from being loved as long as Golovkin is at the top of his game.

“If he is so flatfooted and if he is so beatable then he needs to call Tom Loeffler [Golovkin’s promoter] and sign a contract and make a date.  We have three more dates that Tom wants to schedule this year.”

Golovkin currently holds the highest knockout percentage in middleweight championship history and is on an astonishing 23-fight stoppage streak.

He last fought in September when he stopped Kell Brook inside five rounds in London, and is widely considered one of, if not the hardest puncher in the world.

“In 40 years I have never had a fighter that hits as hard as Gennady but I am fortunate that he doesn’t hit me as hard as he can and as hard as he has hit someone in a fight,” Sanchez revealed.

“I have seen him hit someone 100 per cent with protection on but I have never seen him hit someone 100 per cent in a fight.  He hits very hard and I feel it at night when I go to bed.  My shoulder hurts but that is part of the job.”

Once-beaten Jacobs, himself on a 12-fight stoppage run that stretches back to his sole defeat to Dmitry Pirog back in 2010, is deemed to be the second best middleweight in the world behind Golovkin.

Sanchez believes Golovkin, like other elite fighters, thrives off of boxing the best around.

“I think that all of these fighters like [Sergey] Kovalev and Andre [Ward] and Gennady – they need a challenge.  Not just a physical challenge but also a mental challenge and he presents that for us,” he continued.

“He is the first guy in a while since maybe [David] Lemieux and [Curtis] Stevens that got Gennady fired up.  Not that he trains any harder because he trains hard for all of his fights, but mentally motivated to have a guy across from you that is going to be a great challenge that could outbox him and we’ll see what happens.

“He has good power, so does Gennady, and we’ll see who can impose their will on the other guy.  That’s what makes these fighters fight at their best and the kinds of fights that people will remember for years.”