September 13th, 2016.
When Amir Khan fought Canelo Alvarez, the story before the fight was a simple one; speed versus power. Khan had one, Canelo had the other. This was the defining talking point and the fight would seemingly be decided on which of these factors would matter more. And, in the end, it was. This was not the case, however, with the Golovkin-Brook fight. Mainly because neither Brook nor Golovkin are defined by a single overriding attribute.
Going into the fight, the common understanding was that they were both all-round, excellent, undefeated champions, albeit native to two different weight classes. The Khan fight all depended on Khan being able to stay away from Canelo’s power punches. If he got hit by even a single of Canelo’s big shots, the fight would be over. If he managed to escape un-hit, there was a good chance his speed would get the better of the Mexican and a points victory wouldn’t be an unreasonable outcome.
The Brook- Golovkin fight offered a wholly different proposition. There were many questions on the table. How would Golovkin face up against a fighter who possesses as much quality as Brook? How would Golovkin respond to the hyper-drive hubbub that UK fans build when the occasion presents itself? Everybody knows Kell is good, but would he be good enough against a middleweight? These were just some of the many questions that made this fight such an intriguing one for boxing fans. With the fight over, although we now know the answer to some of these, some are still open ended due to Kell sustaining a broken eye socket that essentially prematurely brought the fight to an end.
So what did the fight tell us? Firstly, I think it told us just how good a boxer Kell Brook in fact is. He had good movement, quick and accurate hands, varied shots that at times connected well, and a surprisingly firm chin. Let’s not forget that not only did Kell not get knocked out, he didn’t go down, and he stayed on his feet for almost the entire fight with a broken face. For those desensitized to bodily harm or boxers who have come to terms with the fact that when you’re in the ring there are times you will get hurt, that may not seem all that noteworthy. But for the average sports fan, I would contend that being hit so hard that when solid bone in your head very literally cracks under punching pressure – and still being willing to continue to fight, is a display of brave-heartedness not commonly encountered and will be difficult for many to comprehend. Saying the only way you’ll lose is if you get knocked out is one thing. What Kell did on Saturday night is another. I would doubt any fan who saw the fight on Saturday would want to miss his next – regardless of the opponent, or the division it takes place in.
Despite Golovkin saying after the fight that Kell’s punches did not hurt him and that he is not a middleweight, if Gennady had changed places with any other fighter in the middleweight division on Saturday, surely a victory for Kell would have been far more realistic. Which puts into perspective the scale of the challenge he dared to endeavor. Yes, moving up from welterweight to middleweight and taking a championship would have been performance for the history books. But that’s not would have made it special. Doing it against Triple G was an added challenge and then some.
This brings us to the attention of the underlying story here. As incredible and brave Special K and his skills were, you can only really gasp in awe at what a force Gennady Golovkin really is. As we’ve seen in many fights before this, this man can not only take a punch, he accepts them, almost willingly. Even after getting caught by several slick combinations and a perfectly timed uppercut by Brook, not once did Golovkin look like he was in real trouble. His composure in between rounds and his demeanor after the fight spoke volumes. He was so far away from breaching the walls of his comfort zone, it’s hard to tell if we even caught a glimpse of where those walls lie. Gennady’s ability to take a punch, as impressive as it is, only contribute to a fraction of what makes him dangerous on a defcon-scale, the overwhelming majority of which is surely his lethal punching power.
In the outdoor training session before the fight that took place in central London, onlookers spoke of the noticeable difference between the popping sound of Brooks shots and the sonic booms crashing down off Gennady’s gloves as they worked the mitts. Now. As some sceptics unhelpfully pointed out, mitts don’t fight back. But, anyone that dismissed reading into the audible difference in sound that echoed out in the centuries old Covent Garden would be lying if they refused to testify against the quite brutal power on fight night. When Golovkin throws, it visibly looks different to when others throw. His phenomenal strength seems to carry a dose of anesthetic in his punches as opponents look so gravely effected and slowed down after each clean connect.
We learned a lot more about Kell Brook than we did about Triple G on Saturday in London. But the punchline of the fight belonged to the Kazak. Golovkin is a beast and anyone that dares to challenge him here on out will be a very courageous man indeed.
Image source: http://www.matchroomboxing.com