Courageous Brook Falls Short of Greatness

 

By Mark Whalley

  • Gennady “GGG” Golovkin beats “Special” Kell Brook by TKO
  • Brook’s corner throws in the towel in round five following a suspected broken eye socket
  • Pulsating fight ends as predicted but Brook emerges with enormous credit
LONDON, UK – It was disappointment for Sheffield’s Kell Brook and his rabid support, but for the full duration of the five rounds this middleweight fight lasted, it was thrilling, edge-of-the seat boxing, as Gennady “GGG” Golovkin won by TKO.

 

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For a fleeting moment, one of the great sporting upsets looked possible. When Brook signed up to take on GGG, it’s fair to say nobody saw it coming. To quote BBC boxing correspondent Ben Dirs, “it is the only time I’ve read a press release and done a double-take”. You just sort of assumed some sort of horrible mistake had been made.

Just months earlier, Amir Khan raised eyebrows everywhere by deciding to move up in weight to challenge Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He banked on his speed being enough to keep the Mexican off-balance, and being able to avoid the big punches in the hope of sneaking a points decision. He was very wrong, and that must have dawned on him even before receiving the sweet right hand that rendered him unconscious.

That many believe Alvarez himself to be avoiding fighting GGG says everything about the size of the task that Brook faced. Moving up two weight classes is ambitious almost regardless of opponent. To do so in order to take on the most feared puncher in boxing? Well, how do you begin to go about explaining that?

In round one we got our answer. After a minute of exchanged jabs, GGG swarmed Brook and seemed to hurt him with his first meaningful onslaught. Rather than be deterred, Brook fired back with jabs, uppercuts and a right hand that seemed to buzz the Kazakh.

And then in round two the roof nearly came off. Brook hit GGG with an uppercut that made believers of everybody in the arena. This was no mismatch: Brook looked to have the speed, skill and, most importantly the power to upset the beast.

Unfortunately for British fans, that was the pinnacle. GGG started round three charging like a bull, denying Brook the time to slip punches and return with counters. GGG landed more jabs, left hooks and straight rights, bloodying the nose of Brook and – crucially – damaging his right eye.

It was this eye damage that eventually did for Brook. By round five it was looking horrific and Kell was no longer throwing hurtful punches. His trainer Brendan Ingle waved the white towel before too much damage could be done. Brook didn’t look on the verge of being knocked out, but a trainer knows when he’s had enough. That he had to endure the boos of the crowd afterwards did a horrible disservice to a class trainer.

People will say Brook did this for the payday. Of course, he did not fight Golovkin for free. But that cannot be the whole story. Brook’s career narrative up until this point has been a curious one: an unbeaten world champion, potentially best in his weight class, and yet cast as some sort of “nearly” man. There has been a constant re-iteration that he’s never fought at greater than 60% of his full potential.

This was his chance to erase all of those frustrations on one fell swoop. Simply put, there are easier ways of making a few million than taking a beating by GGG. Brook dared to be great, and came up short. He should be commended for trying.

It wasn’t to be. After the fight, Golovkin claimed that Brook wasn’t a middleweight and hadn’t hurt him. He’s probably right on the first count.

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