You would think when you compile their records, which collectively add up to 71-0 (57), you’d have the making of the ultimate slugfest between middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin 35-0 (32) and welterweight title holder Kell Brook 36-0 (25). And that very well could be how it turns out. However, for Brook to give himself his best chance to win, he would be best served fighting as a boxer-puncher more so than as an attacker and seeking the spectacular knockout.
Today everyone looks at Golovkin as if he’s impervious to pain and perhaps unbeatable. But the fact of the matter is, as terrific as GGG has been, he’s been swimming in a shallow pool of upper-tier middleweights. Nobody is giving Brook a chance, but he’s a much better opponent than anyone Golovkin has faced so far. His positives are that he punches from all angles–sharp, accurate, unpredictable shots that carry some pop–and that he has first rate mobility. He’s an excellent boxer. I can see him taking some early rounds. But here’s where the problems show up. Even though he’s a very big welterweight, he’s going to get out-muscled by Golovkin. Rather than doing the sensible thing, and opting for a hit and run strategy, he’s bulked way, way up.
He now looks like a body builder–absolutely the dumbest strategy he could have taken. By packing on useless weight, he has taken away all of his natural advantages. He should have come in at 154-156, and moved all night (or for as long a possible). It looks like he’s decided to try to get Golovkin’s respect by standing his ground. If that’s what he does, he’s dead.
Apparently someone convinced Brook that added muscle equates to more power, and that’s a myth. When in actuality all Brook has to do is hit Golovkin just hard enough to get his respect. If by chance Brook can stick GGG hard enough to give him the slightest bit of trepidation, that would slightly impede his aggression. And that slight hesitation on Golovkin’s part would afford Brook the time and distance he would need to box and move. Granted, he’d have to have the night of his life to win; he couldn’t afford to make a mistake, and he’d somehow have to deal with Gennady’s unrelenting pressure without wearing down. It’s a tall order. Golovkin might not be quite the monster he’s been made out to be, but he is very, very good, and a legitimate dangerous middleweight. I doubt anyone disputes that.
Punchers like Golovkin are born, not created or manufactured. His power isn’t forced, it’s natural, and he also has short power — when he’s inside, he doesn’t need much room or leverage to hurt his opponents or get them in serious trouble. In addition to that, over all these years and fights going back to his amateur days, his confidence is off the chart. He has total belief in his power and that he’s eventually going to get you. To date he has never been in the ring as a pro with another middleweight who has been able to shake his confidence for a single exchange, let alone an entire bout. Everyone who he’s fought and stopped has nothing but the ultimate praise for him.
Often when there’s a fighter out there with a rep for being a life-taker, not all of their knockout victims are full of praise for them. They have the typical excuses in their pocket saying until he caught me with the one shot I didn’t see, he never hurt me. Or the typical standby – I underestimated him or didn’t have enough time to get in great shape. This isn’t the case with Golovkin. Every fighter who has either sparred or fought him says he’s dangerous and every time he hits you it feels like he broken something. As a banger/puncher, he’s legit. Yes, he has holes in his game like every fighter not named Sugar Ray Robinson. But his overload of power and physicality outrun and cover up his few flaws. That’s why it would be foolish for a bulked-up Brook to think that he can go in there and force the fight and trade with Golovkin.
What shouldn’t be lost is Brook is definitely the most skillful fighter that Golovkin has ever faced, and that counts for something. As much as I believe Gennady is a legitimate puncher based on my eyes and what his opponents and sparring partners have said – I can’t help but think that had Marvin Hagler (who wasn’t thought of as being a killer puncher), fought every opponent Golovkin fought on the night he fought them, Marvin’s KO percentage would be the same as GGG’s. So maybe a skilled fighter with tools like Brook has a chance to extend the fight if he doesn’t make it easy for Gennady by going at him.
I can’t pick Brook to win. I believe Golovkin’s power, confidence and aggression will be a bridge too far for him. However, if by chance we’ve been too quick to fall in love with GGG and have overrated him a bit, then maybe Brook, if he keeps his head and fights more of his fight, assuming he isn’t overwhelmed physically, can steal the fight. Either way, we just may find out how authentically terrific Golovkin is…..or isn’t.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com