Someone’s “O” has got to go at The O2 Arena on Saturday. No matter whose it is, boxing fans will be the big winners.
SAN DIEGO, September 9, 2016 – Welterweight boxing champion Kell “The Special One” Brook of England (36-0, 25 KOs) and middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin of Kazakhstan (35-0, 32 KOs) have a lot more in common than it might appear on the surface.
Both Brook and Golovkin have the same problem. Both are too feared by the majority of their peers to draw a significant opponent to get into the ring to fight them. The difficulty of making a match for their promoters led to Saturday’s surprising bout between Brook and Golovkin at The O2 Arena in London. The bout will be shown live in the United States on HBO Boxing Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Brook, 30, showed tremendous confidence in agreeing to the bout with Golovkin, as he needed step up two weight divisions from 147 pounds to 160 pounds to fight at the full middleweight limit. Brook took the bout after the original front runner, young British middleweight Chris Eubank Jr., and his team including his father Chris Eubank Sr. demanded too much promotional control of the bout. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn offered Brook the opportunity on a lark, and Brook eagerly accepted.
Brook now faces a fight with “the most dangerous man on the planet” as Hearn called Golovkin. It is the culmination of several weeks of whirlwind of promotion in the U.S. and the U.K., with enthusiastic fans on both sides of the Atlantic growing ever more intrigued to see how their favorite boxer matches up in this unanticipated contest.
Brook will not put his title on the line in this bout. No matter the outcome, Brook will remain the IBF welterweight champion either way. Golovkin will put his WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles on this line in this fight (although not his WBA belt as the organization refused to sanction the fight). Brook has nothing to lose from a title perspective, and he has nothing to lose from a reputation perspective.
“Kell Brook is a very good boxer and I respect him for taking this fight – he is more than ready. He is an undefeated champion and this will be the biggest fight of my career. He is coming up from welterweight so his speed will be a new test for me. I hope our styles match well to give the fans a present. I want to produce a dramatic show and that is why I have come to London,” said Golovkin.
The weight issue is a non-issue by the numbers. Brook has worked hard in recent years to make the 147-pound welterweight limit, suffering through wicked diets and 20 week training camps. He is only one inch shorter than Golovkin, who is not a tall middleweight at 5-10. At the 30-day mandatory WBC weigh-in, Brook weighed 176 pounds to Golovkin’s 167.8 pounds. At the seven-day weigh-in, Brook weighed 167 pounds, Golovkin 162.9 pounds. It’s safe to say Brook is unlikely to fight at the 147-pound weight limit ever again.
“When he feels the power that I have that’s going to be a strong, powerful and quick middleweight hitting him, not a welterweight. I’m going to put it all together,” declared Brook.
“Golovkin is like Mike Tyson – people have lost before they even get in there with him. I’m not interested in what he’s going to do; I’m focused on what I need to deliver to win.”
“Everyone in boxing knows that I am a big guy,” said Brook. “People who don’t know think that the weight is going to be an issue. I’m more vicious in sparring when I am around 160 pounds or coming down from heavier than that, that’s where I am healthier in training and I can give so much more output in the gym, and that means the full 100 per cent will come from me in the fight.”
The eyebrow raising numbers drew a measured reaction from Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, who said during a news conference “There are 68 champions in boxing, and there are 68 geniuses out there that think their way is the way,” noting the impressive reputation and record of Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle of the famed Ingle Gym in Sheffield, England. By contrast, Golovkin never varies more than a few pounds from the middleweight limit and always seems to be trained to top condition.
“People are now realizing that Kell Brook is not a small guy, a welterweight stepping up to challenge a middleweight,” said Ingle. “This is the only time I’ve seen him happy in a training camp. Never had a smile on his face when he had to make 147, but this time he’s been happy the whole training camp as he makes 160. “
Those upset about this matchup, seeing another blowout of a British favorite have it wrong. Whether Brook ends up being overwhelmed by Golovkin or not, the circumstances are far different than the Canelo Alvarez bout against Amir Khan.
Alvarez, a big middleweight who comes into the ring at a solid 170 plus pounds, took on on a lean welterweight in Khan known for speed and not power. Khan’s knockout percentage is 54 percent; Brook’s is 69 percent. Khan has losses to Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, and Breidis Prescott. Brook has no losses. Khan has a reputation for a glass chin. Brook, precisely the opposite.
When asked about the criticism, Golovkin said he was left with few options. “If not Kell Brook, who? This is serious, very hard for us. I want fight. Just maybe one fight a year is not serious. Move to 168, to fight who?” Golovkin shrugged and added, “Too much business and not enough sport.” Golovkin has expressed his respect for Brook throughout the lead up to Saturday’s bout for being willing to step up to the challenge.
Brooks’ most notable victory came over American Shawn Porter in a 2014 to win Porter’s IBF welterweight title. He has defended it three times since then. Golovkin only needed five and a half minutes on April 23 to stop Dominic Wade (18-1, 12 KOs) in front of 16,353 elated fans at The Forum in Los Angeles.
GGG is riding a streak of 22 knockouts. It’s possible this record is at risk. Brook is sturdy and could go the distance if he is crafty and tough enough to make it to the final bell. To be the first opponent to leave the ring on his feet since 2008 against Golovkin will be its own sort of victory.
The fight is likely to start slowly as Golovkin sizes up Brook and lets him burn up some early energy putting a heavier body in motion than he is accustomed to on fight night. The first question we will see answered is whether Brook’s speed is compromised by the additional upper body weight he’s added.
Brook would be smart to heed the intelligence from previoius Golovkin opponents like Curtis Stevens, David Lemieux, Martin Murray, and most recently Dominic Wade who said what nearly all Golovkin’s opponents have said after their fights with him. “I tried to get comfortable I was not able to get comfortable once he started hitting me. He’s a great champion. He does everything well. His power is real.”
Golovkin will need to mentally block out the roar of the British crowd, who will be cheering for their champion Brook at a maximum noise level unlike anything GGG has ever heard for an opponent. He’s used to hearing this kind of support for himself. It may help Brook at first, but if he struggles to score on Golovkin, he might start hearing the support as pressure and it could make him a little reckless.
Golovkin needs to do what he does best, which means he doesn’t need to change a thing. He must cut off the ring, pressure Brook and punish him with his trademark body shots mixed with his snapping jabs. Laying down this groundwork for a few rounds allows Golovkin to seek and destroy with the hooks from either side.
Brook will give it all he’s got, but the most likely outcome is a Golovkin stoppage of Brook in the eighth round after a thrilling fight and a worthy effort from Brook. He’ll earn more respect in any loss than all of the opponents who continue to avoid the most feared man in boxing today.
Golovkin vs. Brook airs on HBO World Championship Boxing at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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