It’s not often that two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world have a chance to get it on, so let’s truly savour the Kell Brook-Gennady Golovkin super bout on Saturday night from London’s O2 Arena.
The IBF Welterweight champion Brook has stepped up two weight classes to challenge the man known as GGG, and it will be interesting to see how that manifests itself during the fight. The Sheffield ace is unbeaten in 36 fights, winning most by TKO, so with added power at the 168lb mark he is clearly going to be a danger to Golovkin’s own unblemished record.
Brook has occasionally been wobbled in the past though; notably against Carson Jones, who is significantly smaller than Golovkin. Bearing in mind that GGG has never been stopped nor dumped on the canvas in more than 300 amateur and professional fights. No wonder the Kazakh is as short as 1/7 with the bookmakers.
But as we have seen in boxing countless times in the past every dog has his day, and when Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko he too was a 6/1 outsider like Brook, so anything can happen. To price up a fighter with such sublime technical ability as Brook so generously is clearly going to be of interest to punters.
So can Kell make life hell for GGG at the O2?
Tale of the Tape
Much of the talk in the build up to the fight has been about the weight, and with good reason. When stepping up a couple of divisions one of two things can happen: the fighter can be weight-drained and lose all of their stamina/hand speed, legs turn to jelly and they become an easy target. Or alternatively they can utilise the extra power afforded to them by the added pounds and make life very difficult for a naturally larger opponent.
That is exactly what Sugar Ray Leonard, a retired welterweight, did when he came out of the shadows to fight middleweight ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler back in 1987. The smaller man used his greater speed, movement and technique to outwit his opponent, and it was Leonard who took the judges’ cards to record a historic victory. It is a fight that Brook has referenced more than once in the build-up here.
GGG himself was impressed with Brook’s physique when they met at their last press conference. “He came in a month before the fight at 176lbs and then 167lbs. My weight has been 165 or 163 but he’s huge. He looks good,” he told Sky Sports. “He looks strong and big. It’s interesting. It’s very serious and it’s a huge fight.
That respect was returned by Brook, who rather alarmingly said that he ‘feared’ Golovkin. “I do fear him. Of course I do. I know he’s a big puncher and that nobody wants to fight him for a reason. But the fear is positive because it’s going to make me super-sharp with cat-like reactions.”
There’s a clear vision of how this fight will pan out for both men: Brook will look to use his greater speed and movement to take the fight all the way, while Golovkin will look to tag the Brit with those lacerating shots, slowing him down enough so that GGG can land the knockout blow as he has done countless times before.
What is interesting is that Brook should beat Golovkin to the punch, and with his added power it will be fascinating to see the impact that has on the granite-like chin of GGG. Sideways movement should keep the Sheffield man out of the Kazakh’s clutches for long enough to build some momentum in the fight.
A lot of people talk about Golovkin’s CV and, through no fault of his own, he hasn’t faced many elite-level fighters simply because nobody really wants to fight him. Brook will be far and away he most skilled fighter he has faced.
GGG has been clipped in the past and walked through punches thrown by big middleweights. But Brook’s strikes are well timed and accurate; and as David proved against Goliath, occasionally that’s more important than brute force.
But eventually pressure tells, and with his concussive power Golovkin won’t mind losing the points battle early on. Expect his greater strength at the weight to ultimately prove decisive, and despite a strong showing by Brook in front of his own fans backing GGG to win anytime in rounds 7-12 at 2/1 looks to be the smart bet here.