Gennady Golovkin (1/6) vs Kell Brook (6/1)
The upcoming title fight between Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) and Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) has already shocked the boxing world. Brook was widely expected to defend his IBF welterweight championship against Jessie Vargas in his next bout, while Golovkin was in talks with fellow middleweight Chris Eubank Jr.
Both sets of negotiations fell apart, though, and now Brook will step up two weight classes and duke it out with arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today. (There’s not much argument on that front, actually.) Brook’s daunting endeavor will at least take place in front of a friendly UK crowd as the fighters square off at the O2 Arena in London on September 10.
Brook didn’t even insist on the fight taking place a catchweight. He’ll battle Golovkin at the Kazakh’s natural 160-pound weight, giving him the chance to win Golovkin’s WBC and IBF middleweight championship belts. (The WBA title will not be on the line.)
Both fighters will enter the bout undefeated, but Golovkin has been stopping true middleweights his entire career. Back in April, the then-undefeated Dominic Wade couldn’t even get out of the second round as Golovkin earned his 21st straight stoppage.
The undefeated Brook has obviously never been stopped in his professional career, but he’s never fought at 160 pounds and he’s never faced the likes of Golovkin. The Briton does have decent power for a welterweight, earning 25 KOs in this 36 career fights, including three straight stoppages. Like Golovkin, Brook also earned a second-round stoppage in his last fight, a TKO over Kevin Bizier.
Brook (5’9″) stands an inch or two shorter than Golovkin (5’10.5″) and has an inch disadvantage in reach (70″ vs. 69″). That’s bad news for the Sheffield native, whose only real hope is to keep Golovkin at a distance. If Golovkin is routinely within his power-punching radius, this fight isn’t going to last long. He loves to pound the face and the body; Brook will only be able to cover up so much and for so long.
Even if Brook is able to stay at a distance, there’s no guarantee he wins. Golovkin isn’t just a power puncher. He can win rounds and break you down from a distance with his powerful jab, as well. There are very few flaws in his game and his last line of defense – his chin – is as iron as they come. (The 34-year-old has never been knocked down.) That’s going to neutralize any speed advantage the Briton possesses.
Golovkin is the huge favorite he deserves to be, sitting at 1/6. Much credit to Brook for moving up to battle the most dangerous man in the boxing world, something the likes of Canelo Alvarez have been too timid to do. But it’s hard to find a path to victory for him, even in front of a partisan crowd. Golovkin is too big and too complete. Yes, he’s struggled finding marquee names to fight and, as a result, his resume isn’t as shiny as it could be. But that’s because so many top fighters recognize that battling Golovkin is almost a death sentence. Even at 1/6, he looks like the better value.
Pick: Golovkin (1/6).
Photo credit: Zaqir Ismile [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons.