Brook has it all to do
Does Sheffield's IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook really have a chance against middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin? The fight that came out of left-field remains one of the year's most surreal, but also intriguing match-ups. James Oddy ponders what might happen ...
Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) have waited a long time to get an elite name opponent to help cement a legacy.
But is unlikely that they, or anyone else for that matter, would have imagined they would find it in each other. The two meet on 10 September at the 02 Arena, in front of a sell-out crowd for the WBC, IBO and IBF middleweight titles. Sky Sports Box Office broadcast in the UK and HBO televise in the USA.
The fight has had a bizarre and convoluted genesis, even by boxing's standards, with Amir Khan, Canelo Alverez and Chris Eubank Jr all supporting players. Depending on who you ask this is either the worst or most intriguing fight of the ones that could have been made from this combination of characters, but either way, it has people talking. And perhaps that’s the most important thing.
Sheffield’s IBF welterweight champion Brook is doing what few elite middleweights are willing to do by meeting the Kazakh destroyer GGG. Golovkin has chased fights with names such as Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, Julio Chavez Jr, Miguel Cotto and Alverez with no luck. He has kept busy, however, decimating solid operators at middleweight over the last few years. He took out Birmingham-born Matthew Macklin in 2013 with a sickening body shot and also stopped ultra-tough St Helens man Martin Murray in 2015. Golovkin also out-boxed notable punchers Curtis Stevens and David Lemieux for TKO wins in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
The 34-year-old Karaganda native has the highest KO percentage in middleweight championship history. He has shown very few chinks in his armour so far, exhibiting unflashy yet effective footwork, an underrated jab and concussive power in both hands, particularly with looping hooks. Since being taken on by trainer Abel Sanchez, he has adopted a so-called ‘Mexican style’, stalking his opponents around the ring and backing them into the ropes and into corners. His only apparent weakness is a sometimes porous defence, which has seen the odd opponent teeing off on him. That seems to be negated, though, by a cast iron chin, and also the ability when in against a big puncher such as Lemieux to take a more cautious approach, working off the jab before unleashing the bigger shots.
So Brook, making a leap of 13lbs, has it all to do. The undefeated welter is trained by the famous Ingle camp in Sheffield and is a superb athlete. Huge at the weight, it was expected he would step up to at least light middle in the near future anyway. Special K, like his opponent, has very few obvious weaknesses, with fast feet and hands but also hard, accurate punching. His win over then undefeated Shawn Porter in the USA in 2014 was one of the best in a long time for a UK boxer on away soil. He has since dealt with Jo jo Dan, Kevin Bizier and Frankie Gavin with consummate ease in stoppage wins, although all three are solid rather than spectacular fighters.
Brook has apparently bulked up significantly for the fight and will be presumably heading in at the 160lbs limit, rather than coming in light. Whilst Brook does carry power and hits with real spite, I don’t see him winning by stoppage. If he does win, it’ll be on points after out-boxing his opponent and sticking to a game plan, something he did so well against Porter. The latter rounds at elite level are largely unknown to Golovkin and if, going into the 9th or 10th, Brook is neck and neck on points, who knows how Golovkin will react.
That being said, my pick is for GGG to stop Brook in the middle rounds. Golovkin has stopped some legitimate middleweights, durable ones at that, with relative ease. I feel the jump up for Brook may be too much at this time.
But a defeat won’t be the end for him. If Brook, as I expect him to do, proves game and talented in front of a big American TV audience it could lead to some more winnable, but just as lucrative, fights in the coming years.