Golovkin-Brook: Bravery or Delusion?
By Hector Franco
September 7, 2016
This Saturday night at the 02 Arena in London, England, Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) will make the jump from the welterweight division to the middleweight division. He will be facing IBF/WBC/WBA/IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs). When the fight was first announced it was met with a mixed reaction. Many thought that Golovkin was being somewhat of a hypocrite after criticizing Canelo Alvarez for facing Amir Khan earlier this year. Others were more forgiving of Golovkin. The feeling in the boxing world is that most fighters at middleweight either don’t want to fight him or don’t want to fight him anytime soon.
This fight, however, isn’t so much about Golovkin. He is in a lose-lose situation in almost every way, except the box office. If he starches, Brook in the first few rounds like he did Marco Antonio Rubio he will be given little to no credit as Brook was an underdog coming up in weight. If Golovkin, struggles with Brook he will be seen as an overrated fighter who couldn’t handle a welterweight. This fight is more about Kell Brook and what he is trying to accomplish.
A few months ago, the boxing world was anticipating an entirely different set of events. Kell Brook was going to fight WBO welterweight champion, Jessie Vargas in a unification bout. Golovkin would still be making his way to the U.K. but against Chris Eubank Jr. Things changed over negotiations. The outcome of these negotiations for many fans is Canelo-Khan 2.0. This is how Golovkin-Brook is viewed by many. But is this a valid comparison?
Certainly, there are similarities. Both Brook and Khan would be moving up in weight to take on two fighters who are considered two of the biggest punchers in the sport. The difference between Khan and Brook may be larger than most realize. Khan started his career as a lightweight and was famously stopped in the first round against Breidis Prescott at lightweight. He moved up the to the 140-pound division shortly after. Khan was successful at 140-pounds but met his end at the weight against Danny Garcia where he was once again stopped. Since the Danny Garcia loss Khan has had a series of inconsistent performances and inactivity. After chasing fights with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Khan got his much sought after big fight against Canelo. Khan was stopped again in arguably the most brutal fashion he has been in the sixth round. Brook, on the other hand, has not yet lost or been stopped. This could change against Golovkin.
There is a misconception going into this fight that Brook has never fought above welterweight. Brook has fought above welterweight a few times, most famously in his rematch against, Carson Jones. Jones is the only fighter who has tested Brook inside the squared circle. In their first encounter in July 2012, Jones made a late round surge that had Brook on the back foot and seemingly close to being stopped. The rematch that took place a year later saw Brook stop him in four rounds. Jones was trained in their first fight by Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez. The fights with Carson Jones, however, have given detractors of this fight more ammunition. Brook isn’t just stepping up to face a random middleweight to test the waters; he is facing the best middleweight. It stands to reason, for fans to ask Brook if he is being brave or delusional?
There is a tradition in the sport of boxing of welterweights facing middleweights. It is nothing new in the sport. The results have always been mixed. We can go as far back and reference the top fighters in the history of the sport in Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson. With the recent release of the movie ‘Hands of Stone’ fans may remember Roberto Duran challenging Marvin Hagler in 1983. He lost that night against Hagler but gave a good account of himself by only losing the fight in the last three rounds. Duran would later challenge Iran Barkley for a middleweight title in 1989 and come out victorious in what was recognized as the fight of the year.
More recently, former welterweight champions Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya moved up from the welterweight division to challenge champions at middleweight. Trinidad in 2001 was considered one of the top three pound for pound best fighters in the sport when he faced Bernard Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight championship. Before facing Hopkins, Trinidad had put in a body of work at welterweight and super welterweight. At 147, Trinidad defended his title 15 times. The second most in the division’s history. He is also recognized as the longest reigning welterweight champion in boxing history. At 154 he unified titles against Fernando Vargas and David Reid. When he moved up to middleweight, Trinidad faced William Joppy for the WBA middleweight title before facing Bernard Hopkins.
In De La Hoya’s case, he was a six-division world champion before facing Bernard Hopkins. The now promoter of Golden Boy promotions also has a resume full of hall-of-famers and top contenders. Trinidad and De La Hoya were already hall-of-famers before they faced Bernard Hopkins. They had already established a legacy. In comparison, Kell Brook is trying to make his legacy in just one fight.
Brook coming in at 176 pounds for the WBC 30-day weigh-ins showed without question that he was ready to move up in weight. He has some experience fighting above welterweight, but the real jump for Brook isn’t in weight. It’s the jump in level of competition. Brook has just one real notable win on his record. That came in 2014 against Shawn Porter. Since then he has faced overmatched opposition against the likes of Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier. Golovkin is an entirely different animal.
Whatever happens on Saturday night, Kell Brook will have forever changed the course of his career. He may try to fight off the back foot like Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler to try and steal a decision. The odds are that he ends up like Jose Napoles did against Carlos Monzon. Being stopped in the middle rounds. Brook is brave for stepping in the ring against Golovkin. Whether he was delusional, will be answered emphatically on September 10th.
(Featured Photo: K2 Promotions)