September 6, 2016
September 6, 2016
Gennady Golovkin

Action Images/Peter Cziborra

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THE crack of Gennady Golovkin’s right glove smacking into the pad is audible. He scoops his hook in, heavy and hard. You don’t need to see trainer Abel Sanchez’s playful winces to realise that the Kazakh hits to hurt.

A healthy crowd gathers round the open air ring in London’s Covent Garden to see the middleweight champion, and one of the most feared fighters on the planet in person, hammering at the pads with gusto. The air is hot and humid, the sun hidden behind clouds, as his appreciative audience leans forward, close-packed, to see the master at work. He grins as he slings the punches out, throwing them easily, measuring out left hooks that allow him to angle in scything uppercuts. He is compact for such a destructive puncher and the public workout is just a hint, a foretaste of the fight to come.

Yet his challenger Kell Brook, stepping up two divisions from welterweight for this defining fight, bounds into the ring for his turn seemingly without a care in the world. He switches stance as he shadowboxes. Brook is undeniably skilful and as cranks up the volume of punches on the pads with trainer Dominic Ingle you can see not only his speed, though that is marked, but also his enthusiasm. With a roar of satisfaction Brook finished and leapt up on to the cornerpost of the ring, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd. He may be up against it, but he is ready for war.

“Everyone’ s asking, ‘Do you think he’s got a chance‘ and then you watch that and you hear people [saying], ‘He’s going to win you know.’ Then you’ve got Naz [Naseem Hamed] going, ‘I’m tell you I’ve known him since he was a kid. He’s going to win this fight,’” enthused promoter Eddie Hearn. “Golovkin and his team are a little bit ratty. ‘No media,’ you know. So you don’t know how he’s feeling do you?”

It’s a tantalising question but, publicly at least, the Kazakh is yet to reveal a crack in his composure. It will however be intriguing to see how the fighters react when they come face to face on Thursday for the final press conference ahead of the fight.