As calendar-filling opponents go, Kell Brook is a rare breed.
The 30-year-old Englishman is unbeaten in 36 pro fights, has stopped 25 foes and captured a world welterweight championship in 2014 that he’s subsequently defended three times — all by KO.
But matched with consensus middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin, he’s an afterthought.
“With marquee names running in the opposite direction, we need to keep GGG busy,” Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, told CBS Sports. “Everybody is dangerous on any night, but GGG is a special breed. Nobody from 154 to 168 lasts the distance.”
And therein lies the Saturday night drama.
Golovkin will head to the O2 Arena in London — less than 200 miles from Brook’s hometown — to take on an ambitious smaller man after several potential foes his own size, at least according to his team, failed to take him up on the offer of a title shot.
Golovkin’s people suggest that WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders as well as Chris Eubank Jr., the son of a former two-division claimant, vetoed matches, leaving them to make an offer to Brook — who’s never weighed in past 155 pounds for any professional outing.
“Can’t force the weak of character and grit to sign a contract or stop yapping,” Sanchez said.
Brook stands an inch-and-a-half shorter (5-foot-10 1/2 to 5-foot-9) and has a 69-inch reach that’s a shade off Golovkin’s 70 inches, but a sanctioning body mandated weigh-in seven days before the fight revealed that he, not Golovkin, was heavier by nearly five full pounds (167.8 to 162.9).
Nevertheless, it’ll be Golovkin’s cadre of title belts — IBF, IBO and WBC — that’ll be on the line, and not Brook’s IBF welterweight strap. Golovkin also holds the WBA title at 160 pounds, but the organization refused to sanction the fight, citing Brook’s lack of experience in the weight class.
Boxrec.com lists Golovkin as its No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter, five spots ahead of Brook at No. 10.
“Brook is the best welter in the world, (he’s) having the same issues we are securing a major fight (and is an) undefeated champion with KO power,” Sanchez said.
Brook won his 147-pound title two years ago with a decision over Shawn Porter and has stopped three challengers in a combined 12 rounds.
Golovkin, meanwhile, has defended the IBO title 13 times since capturing it in 2011 and has stopped 22 consecutive opponents — dating back to 2008 — since last going the distance.
He’s frequently suggested he’d fight all comers from 154 to 168 pounds, but has been unable to lure any big names into the ring and instead has settled for a run of opponents labeled as subpar by some. In his most recent fight, five months ago, he halted unheralded Dominic Wade in two rounds.
Canelo Alvarez loudly claimed he’d be happy to tangle with Golovkin after stopping Amir Khan for a 160-pound belt in May, but later decided to relinquish that title — which was awarded to Golovkin — in favor of a 154-pound championship match with another Englishman, Liam Smith.
That fight will occur seven days after Golovkin-Brook, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Let’s hope (future opponents) don’t wait until (promoter) Tom Loeffler has the next fight set up before they all get brave and start to talk about GGG,” Sanchez said. “That’s par for the past.”
As for Brook, he insists not having to drop to 147 pounds has been a boon.
“I feel strong. I feel like I’ve never felt before,” he said. “I’ve grown and put muscle on. I’ve been draining myself to make 147 for years. I feel more natural, more comfortable at this weight. I’m going to be a monster and surprise everybody when they see me and Golovkin at the weigh-in.”
The Golovkin-Brook fight will highlight a split HBO card airing Saturday afternoon and night.
|Tale of the Tape||Gennady Golovkin||Kell Brook|
|Weight||159 pounds||159 pounds|
|Record||35-0, 32 KOs||36-0, 25 KOs|
|Hometown||Kraganda, Kazakhstan||Sheffield, England|
The middleweight title fight in London will go off at 5:30 p.m. ET, and the network will return at 10 p.m. for a two-bout segment that includes Carlos Cuadras risking his WBC 115-pound title against former 105-, 108- and 112-pound champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez in suburban Los Angeles.
Preceding Cuadras and Gonzalez on the late show is a 154-pound rematch between Yoshihiro Kamegai and Jesus Soto-Karass. The two fought to a draw in April after one judge saw Kamegai a winner by four points, another had Soto-Karass up by two points and a third saw it dead even.
Golovkin is a significant favorite according to the numbers guys at sports.Bovada.lv. It’ll take a $600 wager to return $100 on him, while a $100 outlay on Brook would return $400 for an upset.
“This will put me right up there as No.1 pound-for-pound,” Brook said. “The only thing that is stopping me from sleeping is thinking about having that title and becoming the best in the game.”
How does Golovkin win?
He’s unbeaten in 35 pro fights and has prematurely squashed every foe with whom he’s shared a ring since 2008. So, to a certain extent, Golovkin wins simply by being Golovkin. He’s a master at controlling ring space and grinding down the opposition with precise shots to the body and head. Brook presents an athletic challenge unlike many he’s seen, but it won’t change the champion’s approach.
How does Brook win?
The fight is scheduled for 12 rounds. So the litmus test will be simply whether Brook can take Golovkin’s shots. If that answer is yes, things get a lot more interesting. A big man for a welterweight, Brook insists he’ll be stronger without having to cut down to 147 pounds. Skill-wise, he’s quick with his hands and moves well, and he’ll remain competitive for as long as he can remain conscious.
Prediction: Brook by decision
Yep, we’re going out on a significant limb here. Picking against a champion with 13 title defenses and a streak of 22 consecutive splattered opponents seems foolish, but the rules that typically hold true for a middleweight against a welterweight don’t necessarily apply here.
Brook is a skilled fighter who’s earned entry to some pound-for-pound lists, and he’s a welterweight only because it’s the weight class he’s chosen to melt down to. If he retains his speed and strength without having to pare the extra 13 pounds, he’ll give Golovkin all he wants and then some. And it says here he’ll stay vertical long enough to win seven rounds and take a narrow decision.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook: Fight prediction, date, odds, start time