I THOUGHT nothing could top the shock announcement that Amir Khan would challenge Canelo Alvarez. On that February day we were minutes from going to press, and chaos ensued as we scrambled to change content and the cover. But on Friday, rather than chaos, there was something truly surreal, almost fateful, about the reaction in the Boxing News office when confirmation of Kell Brook’s September 10 shot at Gennady Golovkin broke. Sat alongside us, dressed in a red suit, red shirt, red jacket, red tie and red shoes, was Lloyd Honeyghan, the engineer of one of the biggest upsets of all time when he thrashed Donald Curry 30 years ago.
“He’s fighting who? Is he mad?” asked Honeyghan when we heard it would be Brook who would tackle “GGG”, and not the anticipated Chris Eubank Jnr.
Similar accusations of insanity were levelled at Honeyghan when he travelled to the US in September 1986 promising to snatch the world welterweight title from a man widely thought to be the pound-for-pound best, one regarded as untouchable then as Golovkin is today. And after demanding his promoter and manager Mickey Duff bet £10,000 on an away victory, the jovial yet fiercely determined warrior destroyed Curry.
It’s a victory that is referenced every time a British fighter accepts a fight they are not remotely expected to win. The sentiment being, ‘If Honeyghan could do it, then anything is possible.’ But no one – not even Tyson Fury’s win over Wladimir Klitschko – has subsequently matched Honeyghan’s achievement.
Brook’s task is harder than Lloyd’s. Okay, so he won’t be travelling to foreign lands for his chance, but the jump across two divisions – a bigger one than Khan’s, who agreed to fight Alvarez at the catchweight of 155lbs – is astonishingly courageous, and might ruin his career. Those who say Golovkin is not a huge middleweight, and Brook is a big welterweight, are correct, but the Kazakh has proved, time and again, that he has the power to destroy fighters who have spent their entire careers at 160lbs. We will hear in the build-up that Kell is stronger than ever, but wouldn’t he already have moved up in weight if that was the case? The Sheffield star should get immense credit for accepting this chance, it just feels unfair that his defining moment comes against a man so much bigger. The fact he is forced out of his natural division says it all about boxing today, that Khan and co showed little interest in fighting Brook. Matching the best in each weight division should come as standard, but, this is not the case – something Golovkin can attest to.
After accepting Alvarez’s unwillingness to fight him, Gennady welcomed the challenge from natural middleweight Chris Eubank Jnr, but the Englishman’s team reportedly tinkered and stalled on the details. Their infamous negotiating skills must be addressed because though the incessant examination of contracts is undoubtedly designed to get the best deal for Junior, it is having to opposite effect. If the belief is there, sign on the dotted line, and make strict demands when you have a championship belt around your waist. Will Team Golovkin ever want to negotiate with the Eubanks again after this? Will anyone?
Khan’s brave leap to Alvarez exhibited the dangers of dining on too much meat. Beforehand he declared he would be better than ever, but the gamble was too much, the difference in size sickeningly obvious as the canvas gobbled up what was left of him in round six. Kell watched carefully, and a desire to go one better than Amir may have sprung to mind when he accepted the Golovkin bout. A better way to solve the argument of who is the toughest would surely have been to fight each other, but in boxing, things are never quite as simple as they should be. Nor are they completely predictable.
“A lot of people think it’s impossible [to beat Golovkin],” Honeyghan told us. “But I’m speaking from experience and I’m sure Brook can make the impossible possible.”
Time will tell, but yet again, the granite balls of British boxing are clear for the whole world to see.