Aftermath: Golovkin vs Brook
It was fun while it lasted - Kell Brook mounted a spirited but doomed challenge for Gennady Golovkin's middleweight titles at an electric O2, with trainer Dominic Ingle throwing in the towel in the fifth round of an entertaining brawl. In the aftermath, Boxing Monthly had some burning questions we wanted answering. Callum Rudge, Chris Williamson, Jessica S., and Terry Dooley obliged, while also bantering about Iron Man II and meat-eating ...
BM: How did you score the first four rounds? Was Brook in the fight in your opinion or was a Golovkin win always inevitable?
CR: After the first four rounds, I had it 3-1 to Brook. I thought Brook was outscoring GGG and peppering him with head shots. While GGG landed an occasional good shot, he was made to look slow at times and limited, and certainly not the 'P4P Great' he was painted to be. While I think Brook was in the fight, the end result wasn’t ever in doubt for me. I expected Brook to start well but tire from carrying the extra muscle and it turned out that way.
CW: Were you watching from Kell's front room, Callum?! I attended the fight and although each round (apart from the fifth) was competitive and wildly exciting, the only round I scored for Brook was the second, as the home fighter moved beautifully and landed some terrific blows on the champion, in particular that lovely left hook. So I scored 3-1 in favour of GGG going into a fifth round which of course he would dominate. Brook was absolutely 'in the fight' as his superb movement and sharp shooting provided problems GGG hadn't yet been posed through his title reign.
JS: I personally had the rounds an even 2-2 but I can see Callum's case for 3-1. When Brook managed to sustain his efforts in the centre of the ring he was landing well and controlling distance. The eye injury was so unfortunate as distance and mobility were two of Brook's main strengths and both were neutralised in an instant. I had personally expected Brook to make the fight appear competitive for the initial rounds - and I felt he did - but didn't doubt that Golovkin's power would eventually prevail. Brook looked the more skilled though, I have to say. Golovkin looked flat by comparison, in my opinion.
TD: Three to one for Golovkin. Brook landed some clean, heavy shots, particularly in round two, but there was a sense of Michael Brodie against In-Jin Chi (especially their second fight) about the performance - he was giving too much of himself to remain in the rounds and the fight. If you are on your feet and throwing you are still in it, yet 'GGG' always looked in control, despite shipping some shots himself. It was a bit like the first confrontation between Tony Stark and Whiplash in Iron Man II, Brook landed some, and in a sense made "God bleed", but he was completely overran by the bigger man.
CW: Terry has made me want to see Iron Man II. Is it on Netflix?
BM What were your views on the stoppage: did Ingle get it right?
CR: When it happened it did seem a bit premature as it was Golovkin’s first truly dominant round, but the fact is that Golovkin was walking Brook down and having his way with Brook. Brook was taking big shots and not throwing back, when that happens it’s time to stop the fight. The eye injury was obviously a factor, couple that with GGG’s advantages in strength and power and a prolonged beating would’ve been very dangerous for Brook. I think Ingle did absolutely the right thing.
CW: When the bout was signed I felt uneasy about how potentially dangerous it was pitting a welterweight against the bone-crunching middleweight champion. The last time a fighter from around the middle weights visited London with as fearsome a reputation as GGG of course ended tragically, as Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn pitched their own impossibly brutal battle. Although initially disappointed with the timing of the finish, watching replays of the fifth round on the screen above the O2 ring evoked gasps from the fight crowd. Even as a paying punter I would much, much rather watch a terrific fight ended too soon than too late and I can't disagree with Dominic Ingle's decision.
JS: Callum makes a good point that Brook had just had an excellent round when the towel came in. I think that clarifies exactly why so many jaws dropped at that moment - my own included - in spite of the blood and obvious injuries Brook had sustained. Even just a few seconds later though, I conceded that I couldn't fault the decision. I would have only expected the fight to last another round due to the injuries anyway, and if Golovkin had been allowed to capitalise on the damage then Brook wasn't only looking at hindrance to his career - it could have been permanent hindrance to his eyesight. I know it was frustrating for some fans - but this is not fight to the death or even a fight until someone is permanently disfigured. (What a shame, eh?) A good call from Ingle and not a wimpy one - a brave one, in fact, because he knew the level of hassle he would get in the aftermath.
CW: Unlike Jess I'm a bloodthirsty carnivore, but I was glad to see Brook removed from the battlefield against his will to fight another day.
TD: Yes. I have argued that fighters should be allowed to box for as long as they can secure a licence, and I am not squeamish when they hang in there, but Ingle knows Brook well so knew the time was right to wave it off. Going in, I half-expected a mid-rounds corner retirement following some brutal rounds, so it was no surprise to me that the trainer made a compassionate decision so that his man can come again. People Tweeted that fighters from bygone ages would have risked further damage, those people seem to completely miss the point - Ingle made the call, not Brook, and it was the correct one.
BM: How has the fight affected the stock of each fighter in your opinion? Where next for both of them?
CR: I think Brook exposed GGG to an extent; he showed that a fighter with fast hands and solid upper body movement can cause fits for Golovkin. Golovkin looked painfully slow in the first two rounds and it was only after those that he picked it up and started to assert his strength and size on Brook. Golovkin is a quality fighter but talking about him in the same breath as Hagler, Hopkins or Monzon is sacrilege. Brook absolutely enhanced his reputation with his performance, it was a fight where he could’ve lost in the first round and emerged with credit for just taking the fight. Instead he outboxed and at times dominated the most feared fighter in the sport. Brook’s quality was never in doubt, he just needed the stage to show it.
CW: I may be getting slightly carried away by the energy created by the live experience but I can't immediately recall a more compelling middleweight title fight since Julian Jackson v Gerald McClellan in 1993, also lasting five exciting rounds. As such, the Englishman's stock has appreciated enormously overnight. Kell showed excellent movement, variety of punches, a sturdy chin, smarts when hurt and real grit. All of this, shown live on HBO, will be remembered by viewers and TV executives keen to see Brook again, most likely at 11 stone/ 154lb or (whisper it quietly) at Cotto/ Canelo weight. As for Golovkin, his stock increased commercially by virtue of superb exposure in the huge British market and his status as a great fighter shouldn't be negatively affected by this showing. Let's remember, GGG delivered a five round TKO and lost one round. So I'll disagree with Callum (again!) by suggesting GGG, this era's king of middleweights, can and should be talked about in the company of Hagler, Hopkins and Monzon.
JS: I actually think it's Brook's turn to be avoided now! He looked skilled and solid at the weight - although unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the fans) the division is full of talent. I think that Golovkin attracts some quite dedicated detractors and I think they will be able to twist last night into having exposed him. I have to admit that I was personally a bit underwhelmed by the performance while watching, even though on paper he solidly dismantled Brook. He looked flat-footed and easy to hit in spite of being durable, but has power that can't be argued with. I also like Chris' point about Golovkin's stock having been increased by a major British showing. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but I'm still inclined to side with Callum in that Golovkin didn't look as impressive as I thought he would. Although, my mum always tells me I have impossibly high standards.
TD: Brook has shown that he is willing to take risks, both in taking the match and taking it to Golovkin, so it is high time to ditch his IBF welterweight belt, and the endless mandatories that the organisation calls for, and head to 154 for a fight with Amir Khan. It no longer has the same appeal, but it is long overdue. Golovkin will carry on his 160lbs run yet will continue to be frustrated in his attempts to get Saul Alvarez into the ring at 160. Alvarez is unlikely to touch Golovkin at his natural weight, unless of course he saw signs of slippage last night.
BM: Was Brook too gung-ho? Should he have boxed more rather than go to war?
CR: I think Brook’s tactics were fine, I think he retreated to the ropes once too often and that caused GGG to let combinations go on Brook. The fighter that eventually beats GGG will have to meet him the middle of the ring like Brook did, but Brook lacked the upper body movement or defensive quality to frustrate and tire GGG.
CW: Absolutely not. The welterweight champ simply had to gain GGG's respect and establish he wouldn't be bullied. At several points after Kell scored impressively, GGG would nod to the Brit as if to say: "you got me, congratulations". If GGG is nodding then he isn't punching so even this constitutes breathing space and indeed some small success! We saw after Kell's excellent second stanza, the champion began the third like a man in a hurry, rushing into range and hurting Brook to the body and to his 'bad' eye. Brook's tactics were spot on.
JS: I actually really liked the style they went for but would have liked him to sustain longer efforts in the centre of the ring rather than being walked onto the ropes. Easier said than done, however, as Golovkin can quickly make a ring seem smaller and smaller. I thought he boxed intelligently when he had to but urgently needed to make his presence felt and get respect in the earlier rounds as a middleweight, and I felt he did - in spite of Golovkin's later comments that he didn't feel his power. There was a great picture of Golovkin's face flattened against Brook's glove, and I don't know whether that was Brook's accuracy or Golovkin's tendency to rely on his impressive durability!
TD: Not really, no. If he would have boxed, I believe he would have been overwhelmed. He could have jabbed, held and fiddled for a few rounds only to go out the same way against the bigger man. He took a chance, the fans will love him for it and we got more excitement in those five rounds than we've seen in his title defences down at 147.
BM: Fantasy fight time. Golovkin v Canelo at 160, Khan v Brook at, say, junior middle. Who wins these contests and why?
CR: I really like Canelo, one of my favourite active fighters and if Canelo meets the GGG of last night then I’d fancy Canelo heavily. The problem is, I think GGG saw Brook as a tune-up fight, a way to make easy money. Flying in from LA with an eight-hour time difference only a week before the fight seemed strange and his demeanour was that of someone who wasn’t expecting anything than a quick night's work. A 100% focused GGG beats Canelo but it’s a cracking fight between two evenly matched champions. I’ve felt for a long time that Brook beats Khan, Brook is just too heavy handed, accurate and strong for Khan who just isn’t the fighter he was at 140 and has been looking to cash out since losing to Danny Garcia.
CW: Golovkin v Canelo is simply mouth-watering. In some respect it reminds me of the heavyweight situation in 1987-1988 (bear with me!) as Iron Mike Tyson swept up all the belts, while the smaller Michael Spinks held the lineal title. It took a while for that bout to be made with the tag line 'Once and For All' and hopefully this too is signed soon. I expect Golovkin's relentless pressure to be too much for Canelo, but since the Mexican appears to boast a very sturdy chin, I predict a comfortable 116-112 type decision with Canelo having his moments (particularly if staged in Texas, like the Canelo v Smith bout) before being worn into an eventual "survival mode" during the last few rounds. Brook has shown me enough skill, grit and ring intelligence to make him overwhelming favourite against a somewhat damaged Amir Khan. At 11 stone Kell knocks Amir out within five rounds.
JS: Good old fantasy fight time. Golovkin v Canelo may finally no longer be in the realms of fantasy now as I wonder whether Canelo will have considered him much easier to hit and beat tactically on the basis of last night's performance. The fifth round breakdown may not worry him too much either as he may have considered Brook too light to be in there anyway (which I don't actually think he was). I'd be inclined to favour Golovkin in the fight but agree with Chris' view of events that Canelo's excellent resilience could see it go to the scorecards. On the basis of last night's performance, Golovkin might not be active enough to secure a win that way, but I'd expect him to wear Canelo down for a late round stoppage. Great fight though, and I reserve the right to change my prediction in the event it gets made! For Khan vs Brook, I have never favoured Khan in that fight. Sacrificial lamb to the slaughter there but still appetising - even as a vegetarian. I think Khan could look active and swift for the first few rounds but that Brook is far too strong and powerful.
TD: Golovkin hammers Canelo at 160, the Mexican does not impress me and predicting a wide win for Mayweather over him was the easiest prediction I have ever made - and one of the rare ones that I got right. He will stay on his feet only to be hammered into a mid-to-late rounds defeat. Khan versus Brook is harder to call. Amir looked good until he got clocked by Alvarez, his movement and speed would bother Brook. Brook showed that he is equally as brave as Amir, his straight shots should give him a lot of leverage against Khan and would come to the fore the longer it went. As things stand, I cannot pick it until I see both men in action at 154 or at least get to see them on the scales. It has to happen.