Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook – Final Thoughts
By Neel Khagram
12th September 2016
‘’Dare to be great.’’ When Kell Brook walked out in front of a packed 02 Arena in the heart of London’s East End last Saturday night this is exactly what he was fighting for – greatness. The self-proclaimed ‘’Special One’’ was looking to cement his place in history by arguably gaining one of the greatest victories in boxing by moving up two weight divisions from Welterweight (147lbs) to face the liner Middleweight (160lbs) Champion of the World Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin.
Golovkin (all known as ‘’GGG’’) is not just the unified champion at the weight, he is also the most feared and avoided fighter on the planet. A ferocious puncher with tremendous boxing ability, the Kazakhstani native who trains out of Big Bear California under the guidance of Abel Sanchez is a former Olympic Silver medallist with an unprecedented amateur record of 345 victories against just 5 defeats. He went into Saturday night’s bout with a record of 35 wins and 0 losses and a knockout percentage of over 90%. A Kell Brook victory would have therefore ranked alongside Lloyd Honeyghan’s stunning victory over Donald Curry and Ray Robinson’s knockout of Randy Turpin.
As the two fighters weighed in on the Friday ‘size’ on the scales was not an issue, with Brook actually weighing slightly heavier than Golovkin. The Sheffield star roared to his crowd as Golovkin, (who flew in from the West Side of America just 6 days before fight night and was rumoured to be feeing unwell) went straight of stage with his entourage stating he would not speak to any media. Was Golovkin feeling the pressure? Could this actually be Kell Brook’s date with destiny? All would be answered in 24 hours.
As crowds flocked into the arena on Saturday night, fans had already seen inexperienced British Flyweight Charlie Edwards lose to two weight World Champion John Riel Casimero and Lee Haskins edge out rival Stuart Hall to retain his IBF Bantamweight title. It was then time for legendary MC Michael Buffer to call the main event fighters in as Kell Brook followed by Gennady Golovkin entered the square circle. Brook, looking visibly nervous for the first time during renditions of the national anthems started slowly in the first round, momentarily staggering after being caught with two vicious left hooks to both body and head before ending the round strongly.
Round 2 was arguably Brook’s best round, catching Golovkin with his signature ‘chocolate brownie right hand’ and a vicious uppercut which lifted ‘Triple G’ off his feet. However, as if by irony this was perhaps the round which would go on to end Kell Brook’s dream as he gestured from then on of some discomfort to his right eye.
Golovkin upped the tempo in round 3 throwing wildly as the impressive Brook stayed cool under intense pressure to answer shots which were starting to zone in on him from all angles. Come round 4, Brook started to eat a lot more punishment and with his vision impaired one could sense the inevitable. The fight ended when Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle threw in the towel in round 5 to a chorus of boos from the blood thirsty crowd.
Whilst Ingle’s decision left many in the 02 naturally frustrated, it was the correct decision. Brook, who we now know suffered a fracture to his eye socket could have suffered potential career ending punishment if left in there. Whilst we are in the entertainment business, boxer’s safety comes first and Dominic Ingle should be applauded for his brave decision.
Ironically, Brook has gained more respect following this mammoth task than his previous 36 straight victories had produced. A brave warrior who shot for boxing immortality, Brook will now probably campaign at the 154lbs light middleweight limit with the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Liam Smith winner a realistic fight next. For Golovkin, perhaps this fight did little to enhance his reputation. Critics would say he just knocked over a blown up welterweight, however this would be unfair on Brook. Golovkin is by far the best middleweight in the world, but with creditable opponents (such as Alvarez) avoiding him, Golovkin has yet to face a career defining fight which would cement his own place amongst the plethora of boxing greats his talents potentially deserve.
Canelo vs Smith – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
19th September 2016
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez proved why he is one of the elite boxers on the planet by outclassing Britain’s valiant champion Liam Smith in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 at the AT&T Arena in Dallas, Texas on Saturday night.
Smith, making the third defence of his 154lbs WBO title suffered his first career defeat having been floored by Canelo twice before the eventual 9th round stoppage. The man from Liverpool, who was making his American debut proved to be a brave opponent but ultimately fell short as Canelo’s superior size and boxing ability shone through in a one sided contest.
Canelo, who was dropping back down to the Super Welterweight limit looked noticeably bigger than Smith during the open round as the Mexican was able to establish his jab from the get go. A similar pattern followed in the second with Canelo ‘investing’ a lot of his work to Smith’s body. Whilst the round ended with Smith drawing blood above Canelo’s eye, it proved to be a moment of false hope for ‘Beefy’ as the man from Liverpool was unable to gain Canelo’s respect with anything he landed during the early exchanges.
The fight momentarily ignited in the fifth round as the increasingly frustrated Smith, who felt blood himself pour from an unhealed cut sustained from sparing a month prior shoved Canelo. However, nothing was to deter the challenger as the breakthrough came in the 7th with Smith being sent to the floor from right hand to the back of his head. The brave Smith survived the round but the writing was well and truly on the wall. He was knocked down for a second time in the 8th with a vicious shot to the solar plexus and eventually stopped in the 9th with a two punch combination to head and body.
Smith was magnanimous in defeat and offered no excuses, stating in his post-fight interview to HBO’s Max Kellerman that Canelo was ‘’too cute’’ in his work whilst criticising his own performance as ‘’slow’’ and admitting he ‘‘had no timing to even make him [Canelo] think twice.’’
Attention then soon turned to Canelo and his potential fight with 160lbs Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin. Whilst boxing politics has meant the two have not squared off against each other yet, a September 2017 date has been muted. In the interim, one would expect Canelo to take a fight or two at the middleweight limit against creditable opponents before facing Golovkin in what would be the biggest fight in boxing today.
Canelo vs Smith Preview
By Neel Khagram
15th September 2016
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez comes into this Saturdays fight against Britain’s Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith in Dallas as an overwhelming favourite. Canelo is the biggest draw in boxing and having recently reigned at 155lbs (where he won and defended the WBC Middleweight title) he fights for the first time in over a year at the 154lbs Super Welterweight limit against WBO Champion Smith.
Whilst the narrative surrounding Canelo’s decision to relinquish the WBC Middleweight belt instead of facing mandatory Gennady Golovkin is something their team only know, this Saturdays fight provides a chance for the Mexican to gain another world title and use ‘weight’ as the reason why he did not face ‘’GGG.’’ Golden Boy’s (Canelo’s promoters) decision to put their most treasured asset in with Smith is also calculated. Both fighters should stylistically gel which means their charge will look exciting in front of another Pay Per View audience. They probably also perceive Smith as the lowest risk of the four recognised champions at the weight. However, to overlook the 28 year old from Liverpool would be a mistake.
The second youngest of the famous four Smith Brothers, Liam is the first to win a world championship and comes into the bout having never experienced defeat. A product of the famous Rotunda ABC in Liverpool, Smith has a distinct ‘Mexican Style’ with a cool temperament for whom the magnitude of the occasion will not affect him at the very least. Whilst the gulf in class of opponent in which both men have been in with is evident to see (with Canelo’s resume listing a host of modern day hall of famers,) Smith is a well-schooled fighter and with Ring Magazine Trainer of the year Joe Gallagher in his corner, there is enough ingredients to make the fight competitive.
Perhaps Smith’s greatest chance of winning is to take the bout deep into the championship rounds. No one knows how the drop in weight will impact Canelo’s performance and Smith has to at the very least pose the questions for which his opponent has to answer. However, Canelo is a supreme boxer with power in both hands. His most impressive performance since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr was against faded legend Miguel Cotto to capture the Middleweight crown and one would worry for the Brit if Canelo were to replicate a similar performance.