SAN DIEGO, July 9, 2016 – Surprise moves in our favorite sports make for lots of excitement. Boxing fans are still processing the shocker announcement Friday by K2 Promotions of the matchup made between middleweight world champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) and Kell “Special K” Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) of Great Britain, with a fight date set for Saturday, September 10 at the O2 Arena in London. It will be Golovkin’s first fight in the UK, and Brook’s first fight moving up to the middleweight division of 160 pounds. The fight will air on “regular” HBO World Championship Boxing in the United States; it is not a pay per view fight.
Fans hoped for a super fight between then-lineal middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Golovkin, especially after Alvarez called GGG out after his May knockout of Amir Khan. But when it became evident the fight was months, even years away from becoming reality, fans turned to other potential opponents. American Daniel Jacobs? Brit Billy Joe Saunders? Both had belts and Golovkin wants them.
The unlikely front-runner quickly became young British middleweight Chris Eubank Jr., (23-1, 18 KOs) who called Golovkin out publicly after a fourth round TKO over Tom Doran of Wales on June 25. “For me it’s all about making statements. I feel I’m a world level now … Golovkin man, I’m coming for you, I’m coming for your belts. For some reason everyone’s afraid. I’m not … Everyone with a belt, I’m coming for you.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing said he was all all for it. “There’s not many people who want to fight Golovkin. Chris does. Chris Eubank Jr. versus Gennady Golovkin could get made this week,” said Hearn at the time. Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 immediately responded on Twitter, saying Golovkin would be willing to come to the UK to defend all his world titles.
Both Hearn and Loeffler were good to their word. Negotiations began in earnest and made quick progress. The deal was made, the contract was drawn, Golovkin and his team signed on the dotted line, and it was left for Eubank Jr. to seal the deal.
According to an interview with Hearn on IFL TV in Great Britain, Eubank Jr.’s father and trainer, former champion Chris Eubank Sr., wanted operational control of significant elements of the deal including the television commentators, undercard bouts, ticket prices and a cut in line with other British champions like Anthony Joshua, Carl Froch, and Brook. “I said listen, this is the deal, it’s the same deal as Anthony Joshua, and it’s the same deal as Froch,” said Hearn. “We don’t let a boxer and an ex-boxer set ticket prices. I’m not going to let them tell me who the commentator is going to be or who is going to be on the undercard.”
Hearn gave the Eubanks a deadline, and it passed. At the same time, Hearn was in the midst of negotiations for a bout for Brook with American titleholder Jessie Vargas. He offered Brook the fight on a lark. In an interview with Sky Sports, Hearn said, “It’s madness to be honest with you. We were in negotiations for two separate fights (Eubanks Jr. and Golovkin, as well as Brook and Vargas) … I was just on the phone to Kell Brook, and I said, it’s a shame you won’t fight Golovkin, you’re not a middleweight. He said, ‘I’ll fight Gennady Golovkin.’ I said, you serious? ‘Absolutely sign me up.’”
Now Brook will fight “the most dangerous man on the planet” as Hearn called him.
In the news release issued by K2, Golovkin was quoted saying, “I’m very excited to be fighting in front of the great British boxing fans and promise another ‘Big Drama Show’ against undefeated Kell Brook. I give him much respect for taking this fight.”
He also tweeted after the deal was announced, “Up early, time to run. #Respect to @SpecialKBrook for taking this fight. Excited to show the #UK who I am.”
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. 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.
Brook has faced a similar problem as Golovkin: being too feared to draw a significant opponent. The 30-year-old Brook shows tremendous confidence in himself agreeing to the bout with Golovkin, especially his willingness to come up two weight divisions to fight at the full middleweight limit.
“This is the fight and the moment I have been waiting for some time,” Brook was quoted in the announcement release. “We’ve tried and tried to lure the best to come and fight me and now we’ve got the best of the best. The number one pound for pound fighter in the world is coming to the UK.”
In an interview with Sky Sports, Brook said “This is what boxing’s all about. You get fighters saying they want to fight the best, but they don’t step up to the plate. Eddie put this to me 24 hours ago and I said yes straight away. Everyone’s running away from Triple G, I’m running toward him. I want these big fights like Sugar Ray Robinson did.”
Trainer Dominic Ingle and Kell Brook spoke about the upcoming fight on Saturday on YouTube.
Some fans are upset about this surprise match-up, seeing another blowout of a British favorite along the lines of Amir Khan’s defeat by Canelo Alvarez in May. Nonsense. This is far from the same situation as Alvarez, a big middleweight who somehow makes weight at 154 pounds and then comes into the ring at a solid 170 plus pounds, fighting a lean welterweight like Khan, one 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.
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 WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles on this line in this fight, and Brook could add them if he wins. He has nothing to lose from a title perspective, and he has nothing to lose from a reputation perspective.
Brook says he’s unconcerned about the weight difference, and it’s true he has to work hard to make the 147-pound welterweight limit. He is only one inch shorter than Golovkin, who is not a tall middleweight at 5-10. “Everybody knows I’m a massive welterweight. The weight’s not going to be an issue … What better way to fight the most feared man on the planet? This is what’s going to be people so excited. Everyone around the nation is going to be so excited about this fight … We’re going to war, and you know me, I love a war.”
“I’ve have worked my bollocks off to get him the big fights, and they wouldn’t come,” said promoter Hearn.” He’s had to run to a guy who everybody’s running from. Gennady Golovkin, the number one pound for pound fighter in the world, will fight arguably the number one British pound for pound fighter,” said Hearn.
Tom Loeffler could say the same thing about Golovkin. Loeffler said the entire K2 team respects Brook for stepping up and facing Golovkin when so many others have been reluctant to do so. “We’ve tried to come to the UK before for fights with Carl Froch, Billy Jo Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. but Kell Brook is the first to accept the challenge.”
“I’ve worked hard with Tom over the years to bring GGG to the UK and now we do it as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” said Hearn. “It’s what big time boxing is all about. I couldn’t be happier for Kell.”
Boxing fans need to put their disappointment with Canelo Alvarez aside for now. If they want to get mad, it shouldn’t be with Brook or Golovkin; it should be with Billy Joe Saunders and especially Chris Eubanks Jr. and Sr. The only person who has a right to be upset right now is American Jessie Vargas, who got left out in the cold. He’ll need to find another dance partner in the welterweight division.
In the meantime, good fights can still be made with a little creativity and moxie. Applaud the move by Eddie Hearn and Brook. Opportunity knocked for Kell Brook, and he answered the door. This is the mark of a confident champion. Brook has nothing to lose except a number on his record; a good showing even in a loss will win him much respect, and he can still go back to welterweight or settle in at junior middleweight and scare the pants off the talent in that division like Demetrius Andrade, the Charlo brothers, and Julian Williams And yes, Canelo Alvarez, who is fighting Brook’s fellow Brit Liam Smith at junior middleweight.
Another guy who likes this fight for Brook: Amir Khan, who posted on Twitter: “”Behind you 100% @SpecialKBrook glad you took a leaf out of my book, tough ask but anything can happen, just don’t pull out.”
As my colleague Anthony Saldaña pointed out in his own column, we could get lucky enough to see a repeat of the performance by another welterweight who beat a middleweight for a championship when Sugar Ray Leonard won a split decision over middleweight champion Marvin Hagler in 1987.
What Brook would be smart to do is listen to all those who’ve gone into the ring against Golovkin before him, 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.”
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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