Gennady Golovkin looked a little less monstrous than usual Saturday on HBO, aided by Kell Brook’s swift hands and sharp technique, and Golovkin’s own overeagerness. But it ended the way the 22 in a row before did: a knockout.
There was plenty of criticism of Brook’s corner for stopping the fight in the 5th round, given Brook’s game showing. The effect of that game showing was multiplied by the fact that Brook was moving up from welterweight to middleweight.
But it was Golovkin’s fight for all but the 2nd round. He wobbled Brook right off the bat with a left hand. Brook recovered well and started hammering GGG to end the 1st. The 2nd was all Brook as he used what he found at the end of the round to move, counter and really tee off with some power shots. By the end of the 2nd, GGG’s face looked like the kind that belonged to someone who was getting hit hard, or a lot, or both.
And Golovkin was getting hit. His defense, never his strongest point, seemed non-existent. He was swinging wildly, like he was trying to end it early. He’d later confess to that.
The 3rd saw Brook pawing at his right eye. It would look pretty nasty by the end of that stanza, both bloodied and bruised. Perhaps that steadied GGG, because he started doing that intelligent stalking thing he does, and connecting with straighter, crisper blows.
The 5th got downright brutal. Brook took a pounding along the ropes. Even though he held his arms up as if to say, “Look, I’m alive!” at one point, he was getting smashed to bits. His corner took an occasion not long after to wave the towel. Brook said after he lost sight in his left eye in the 2nd.
This was pretty much the best Brook could’ve hoped for. He impressed at a higher weight, giving GGG as hard a fight as we’ve seen. But he didn’t take a prolonged beating from a larger man. He said he planned to move up to 154 next. He looks like he’ll be a factor.
What it does for GGG is mixed. This was a better bout than I feared it would be, although it remains someone contemptible to fight someone from two divisions lower. That it was a better fight was good for GGG; that it was a better fight because GGG struggled, showing some vulnerability to speed and sharp technique, was bad for GGG.
He says he wants Billy Joe Saunders next. That Saunders is the #3 middleweight in the world speaks more to the weakness of the division than Saunders’ quality, but the only other option above him is Daniel Jacobs. Jacobs says he wants the fight, but his money demands have been mocked. Jacobs is a much better fight, if it can be made, because he’s quick and has been demonstrating power. But GGG wants another paper title, and Saunders has one, but then, so does Jacobs. Who doesn’t, really?
Ultimately, we all want GGG vs Canelo Alvarez. It’s still apparently an option next year. But both sides are being stubborn about this or that, so we’ll see.
(LONDON, Gennady Golovkin, blue trunks, and Kell Brook, red trunks, in action during their middleweight contest at The O2 Arena on Sept. 10; Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)