IN a shock twist, Gennady Golovkin will defend his IBF, WBC and WBA world middleweight titles against Kell Brook, who will be moving up from welterweight, where he holds the IBF title.
Golovkin was in negotiations to face Chris Eubank Jr while Brook was slated to be fighting WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, making the Golovkin-Brook announcement even more stunning.
The whole situation throws up an abundance of questions, so below we’ve done our best to answer some of them.
Where did it come from!?
Probably the natural place to start, given how bonkers it all seems. Apparently, we have Chris Eubank (Snr, who prefers to be known as English) to thank for this. Promoter Eddie Hearn, who handles both Brook and Eubank Jr, revealed to BN that the Eubanks simply missed the deadline set for them to sign the fight contract.
Eubank Snr allegedly made some outlandish demands regarding operational issues for the event – such as ticket prices and control of the undercard – that Hearn, quite rightly, would simply not condede. Once they missed the deadline, Hearn quickly got the wheels moving on Brook getting the fight. Kell accepted instantly and within two days the deal was finalised and the announcement made.
Golovkin and Brook, both unbeaten world champions, are superbly talented and have strong claims to being the best in their respective divisions. However, neither have been able to secure career-defining fights with the best in and around their weight, thus adding more explanation as to why they’re facing each other.
Brook had actually mentioned the possibility of fighting ‘GGG’ earlier in the year, when Amir Khan announced he would be fighting Canelo Alvarez. Brook has been after a fight with Khan for sometime, while anyone who follows the sport is eager for Canelo to take on Golovkin.
What weight will it be fought at?
The middleweight limit, 160lbs. Yes, Brook is making the full leap to middleweight, where Golovkin has wreaked havoc with his dynamite mitts. It’s a dangerous – but commendable – move from the Sheffield man, especially given that the thick-set Canelo only fought for the WBC middleweight title he previously owned at a 155lb catchweight and will now move back to super-welterweight (154lbs) to face WBO champion Liam Smith.
That means, officially, Brook will need to pack on 13lbs. However he is a massive welterweight and his trainer, Dominic Ingle, in this week’s issue of BN concedes that his charge will be stronger at middleweight. Golovkin, while a fully-fledged 160lb fighter, is not a massive middleweight.
There will be an IBF check weigh-in on the day of the fight, meaning neither man can gain more than 10lbs after the official weigh-in.
How can I watch it?
The pair will clash at the O2 Arena in London, and tickets will be available this week. Demand for them has been astronomical, so expect them to be snapped up ridiculously quickly.
Tickets go on sale on Wednesday July 13 at midday to O2 Priority members at www.theO2.co.uk.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday July 14 at midday to Matchroom Fight Pass members from the Fight Pass area at www.matchroomboxing.com and the venue and AXS pre-sale before tickets go on general sale at www.theO2.co.uk.
Tickets go on general sale on Friday July 15 at midday from www.theO2.co.uk.
Face value tickets for September 10 will also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ from midday on Friday July 15.
If you can’t make it or would rather watch the night unfold at home, Sky Sports Box Office will televise on pay-per-view in the UK and if you’re in America, regular HBO have picked up the rights.
Of course, you could always follow the trusty BN live blog, which will be providing regular updates from ringside.
Who’s the favourite to win?
Golovkin is a heavy favourite. He can be backed around the 1/7 mark, and odds of around 1/3 are offered for the Kazakh wrecking ball to continue his unprecedented knockout streak. Such is the expectation of him stopping Brook, ‘GGG’ is 4/1 to win on points – something he hasn’t done since 2008, and something he has never done in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds.
On average, Brook’s odds of winning are installed at around 9/2, though he is an 11/2 underdog in some outlets. He’s around 9/1 to win on points and 12/1 to stop Golovkin inside the distance.
However, those are the shortest odds ever offered for a Golovkin opponent. Both David Lemieux and Martin Murray, arguably Golovkin’s toughest foes on paper to date, were roughly 10/1 underdogs, meaning that the bookies view Brook as Golovkin’s biggest test so far.
Brook looks to be the most talented fighter Golovkin will have faced, though his underdog status is heavily influenced by the jump in weight. It’s unlikely the move will enhance Brook to the extent that he can beat a top middleweight, let along a standout pound for pound entrant like Golovkin.
At welterweight, Brook punches like a mule. At middleweight, Golovkin punches like Godzilla.
What’s on the undercard?
At the moment three fights have been confirmed. In another surprise announcement, seven fight novice Charlie Edwards will take on IBF flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero, who recently dethroned Amnat Ruenroeng.
Edwards was a standout amateur and so far, as a pro, has looked impressive at domestic level. Casimero is vastly more experienced in the paid ranks, but it makes for a fascinating clash and Edwards would be launched onto the big stage if he were to win.
Lee Haskins will defend his IBF bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Stuart Hall. Haskins outpointed Hall, a former holder of the IBF belt, in 2012 and the pair have traded barbs over social media over the past few weeks.
Conor Benn, son of the legendary Nigel Benn, will also box on the card. He’s without an opponent at this stage but it will only be his fourth paid fight, and with little amateur experience, it is likely to be against a journeyman.
There will be plenty of Matchroom fighters eager to get on the card – Rocky Fielding has already thrown his name in the pot – and further announcements are expected in the coming weeks.
Is there a precedent for fighters making a jump like Brook?
Historically, there aren’t many comparisons that can be made when a fighter makes such a big jump in weight and class without really needing to. Obviously, Khan taking on Canelo is one such example. Khan was brutally knocked out in the sixth round.
In 2008, Manny Pacquiao jumped from lightweight (a weight at which he had only fought once, having originally started life as a light-flyweight) to fight the much naturally bigger Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight.
Pacquiao was a large underdog heading into the fight, given how much smaller he was, and some were concerned for his wellbeing. Though he was expected to win, De La Hoya was at the end of his career and deemed nowhere near as dangerous as Golovkin is at the moment.
Of course, Pacquiao dazzled against Oscar and De La Hoya didn’t come out for the ninth round, prompting him to hang up his gloves for good.
The other main example is more fitting – Sugar Ray Leonard famously taking on Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1987.
Hagler had already proven himself to be one of the greatest middleweights of all time and Leonard’s sanity was questioned when he announced he would be ending a three-year hiatus from boxing to take on Hagler at a weight he had never previously fought at.
Golovkin is yet to prove he is as brilliant as Hagler, but there are clear parallels between the two destroyers. Leonard went on to win a close split decision that is still disputed to this day, and Hagler walked away from the sport.
Where do Chris Eubank Jr and Jessie Vargas go from here?
It’s difficult to give a definitive answer at this stage. In an alarming admission, Eubank claims he never even saw a fight contract during negotiations and has slammed Golovkin for electing to fight the smaller Brook.
Eubank is still the British middleweight champion and if he defends it two more times, will keep the belt for good – an achievement he hopes to reach. His promotional agreement with Matchroom is still valid so he could, theoretically, appear on the Golovkin-Brook undercard. Or, he could appear on the next Anthony Joshua undercard (expected to be in November), something he has done several times in the past.
Long-term, there’s a strong chance he could fight the Golovkin-Brook winner. Whatever happens, Eubank needs to take drastic steps to wipe the egg left on his face from farcically losing out on the Golovkin fight.
Vargas still holds a world title and is eager for a rematch with division leader Tim Bradley, who outpointed him last year. There are exciting fights at 147lbs for him, though meetings with Al Haymon-managed Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter might not come to fruition for the Top Rank fighter.