You wait for two fights to come along then...
So there we were waiting for one fight to come along in the shape of either Kell Brook v Jessie Vargas or Gennady Golovkin v Chris Eubank Jr.
They were like buses; but we had been hoping for two to come along at once. Instead, a 30-year-old Yorkshireman has found a way for Vargas, the WBO welterweight champion, to be slung off one to Sheffield in the autumn, and Eubank Jr, the British middleweight champion, to be chasing one that is now destined for London on 10 September.
What we have now is not so much a bus but an experimental hovercraft, one that’s been hastily cobbled together in a couple of days. Looks okay, but how will it run at full speed?
Yesterday’s announcement that unbeaten IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook would, in his 37th professional fight, take on unbeaten undisputed middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin was, to say the least, a shock arguably greater than when people picked themselves up the floor after hearing the sentence “Canelo v Khan”.
Like his long-time rival, Brook is daring to be great. A phrase that has had some traction in 2016, but the wheels are still spinning. And let’s make no bones about it, Amir Khan and Kell Brook should have fought one another by now. Rivalry, dislike, a-side and b-side, who walks first and good old money etc etc. A fight that’s sell-by-date will expire soon, even more so if Golovkin does to Brook what Canelo did to Khan.
Khan v Brook feels like the bus that’s never going to show up, you spend hours cursing at it but never really know who is to blame. If and when we do catch it, it might have slowed down a bit and display significant signs of wear and tear.
For now, we have the good ship Golovkin sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to be welcomed by thousands of Brits just desperate to see him fight on their patch, much like when the little genius Guillermo Rigondeaux entertains the people of Cardiff next Saturday night. But the clamour to see ‘GGG’ is somewhat greater. The Kazakh looks like butter wouldn’t melt, but possesses bulldozers for fists. The kid at school who was quiet, polite, but you didn’t know what would happen if you provoked him, until one brave soul plucked up the courage.
Middleweights the world over have talked a good talk, and some have even dared to back it up against Golovkin. David Lemieux, Martin Murray, Curtis Stevens, Matthew Macklin and Gabriel Rosado are the pick of GGG’s 35 opponents so far. Now he faces a 147lb fighter, who has the size to comfortably to move seven pounds north, in the same way that Khan had every justification to move to welterweight.
Billy Joe Saunders, Daniel Jacobs and now Chris Eubank Jr will, I’m sure, have their reasons for not stepping up to face Golovkin. Then there’s Canelo Alvarez. “I invited him [Golovkin] to the ring, and like we say in Mexico we don’t f**k around. I don’t fear anyone. As I said in the last fight I will put on the gloves again”. That was 7 May after the Mexican brutally dispatched of Khan in six rounds. The belts didn't matter to Canelo either, apparently.
Canelo is putting the gloves on again, but as we know it will be on 17 September in Las Vegas against the very underrated WBO light-middleweight champion Liam Smith. A marvellous opportunity for Smith, a kick in the Khans or Brooks, whichever you prefer, for his own fans – Mexican or not.
Do we throw blame at Golovkin for taking on a welterweight? Perhaps. His team did say that they had plans in place to face a different opponent should the Eubank Jr fight fall through. Would these have been better options than Brook? If they were a middleweight, then yes. It wasn’t going to be Saunders, it wasn’t going to be Jacobs, Andy Lee has gone quiet, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is being… well… Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. So who did it leave? After Dominic Wade who was it going to be?
Would we have been looking at Jorge Heiland? A man who continues to hold his hand up, like the kid who has the answer to the teacher’s question, at number one in the WBC rankings. After the rather embarrassing affair of Dominic Wade, who would have been credible for GGG? James DeGale at 168lbs? Would he have risked a unification with Badou Jack for a game of Golovkin roulette?
Should have Golovkin have rolled his own dice and took on former WBO light-middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, which as intriguing fights go is right up there. In the same division WBA champion Erislandy Lara and his box of tricks made the right noises to be Golovkin’s next opponent.
The blame will be aimed at all comers, but that’s not what this article is about. That can be saved for social media, podcasts and boxing forums. Golovkin v Brook is… sexy. Don King would like it. “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” This certainly makes dollars.
Brook may be two divisions below but he and his team bring a lot of money, and a fight in London in front of 20,000 people allowing the Golovkin brand the chance to grow.
It’s not the right opponent for Golovkin, but it’s an event for the 34-year-old and his legion of followers. That’s what it is, an event. Treat it like one. Who knows, a good fight may even break out of it.