By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
‘The Special One’, Kell Brook, the undefeated International Boxing Federation World Welterweight champion from Sheffield, United Kingdom, is going boldly where almost no man has gone before. The welterweight champion is going to risk it all by moving up in weight two classes to challenge recognized World Middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
Golovkin, 35-0 with 32 knockouts, Los Angeles, California by way of Kazakhstan, currently holds the WBA super, WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles. At age 34, he needs only to finish off the middleweight pretenders to realize a big payday super fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. WBA champion Danny Jacobs and WBO champion Billy Jo Saunders don’t seem to be gunning for GGG anytime soon. Even Miguel Cotto seems unwilling to fight GGG for a meager payday (as GGG isn’t a household name or mega draw).
Brook, 36-0 with 35 knockouts, is going for broke at age 30. While the odds are against him, he has a chance to win, however slim. The only way to properly assess Brook’s jump into the middleweight mix is to take a look back at where this has happened before.
The look back has to do with the determined jump directly from welterweight to middleweight. Certainly a number of known 147 pounds welterweight boxers such as Emile Griffith, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Wilfredo Benitez, Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho and others have tried it, but they worked their way through the 154 pounds super welterweight / junior middleweight division first before ascending to the 160 pound middleweight weight class.
On November 23, 1957, Carmen Basilio, the undisputed world Welterweight champion, won the world middleweight championship by 15 round split decision over Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In 1959, Basilio lost the middleweight title in a rematch with Robinson by 15 round split decision. Basilio lost subsequent title bouts to Don Fullmer in 1959 and 1960 (getting stopped twice) and lost a middleweight title bout to Paul Pender by 15 round decision 1961 and retired at age 34. Basilio also four nontitle bouts at middleweight.
In February 1974, WBC and WBA World Welterweight champion Jose ‘La Mantequilla’ Napoles traveled to Hauts-de-Seine, France, to challenge WBC and WBA World Middleweight champion Carlos Monzon. Napoles, whose career record was 77-5 to that point, received a televised big money payday, but was never actually a middleweight, reaching 153 pounds, but still a full-fledged middleweight for the challenge. The show went on, with Napoles retiring in his corner after the sixth round.
For Brook to mount a serious challenge against GGG, he has to be able to become a legitimate middleweight. The problem with this confrontation is Brook does not seem the type to be able to beat Chris Eubank Jr., Billy Jo Saunders or even Alan Minter. Brook comes across as magnificent welterweight, who beat Shawn Porter in the UK. Brook has not yet fought the likes of Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, Andre Berto, Marcos Rene Maidana, Juan Manuel Marquez, Keith Thurman or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Brook is an unproven commodity. The issue with GGG on the other side is nobody really wants to fight him anymore. They want him to go away, and the big money promoters don’t want to risk their beloved fighters incurring a loss at the expense of their big money draw names. The British wanted this fight, and will build a great Pay-Per-View card to support the GGG versus Brook main event.
If GGG wins, everyone will say Brook had no business fighting him in the first place. If Brook wins, critics will say GGG never reached name recognition because he never fought a big name. With contractual options flying in both directions, GGG versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. never came to pass.
GGG is a natural, like Carlos Monzon, destined to remain forever at 160 pounds. Brook is trying to jump two steps when he is not yet in the weight class of GGG. To win, Brook will have to outpoint GGG convincingly in the UK. GGG, on the other hand, is coming into 02 Arena in London with the intention of knocking Brook out.
My prediction is somebody has got to go here. It seems implausible for any boxing expert to convince fight fans this is a reasonable matchup on paper. If GGG hits hard, and boxes well, Brook will probably be stopped between rounds in the corner, just like Monzon did with Napoles. More likely is Brook, behind on the scorecards, will probably try for a home run late in the bout with GGG if he lasts that long. Brook will have to fight the technical fight of his life, outwork and outthink GGG to score a major upset. It’s possible-but highly unlikely-Brook has the superior talent to accomplish this once he leaves the 147 pound class. Nonetheless, this could be an extraordinary exciting fight while it lasts.
Perhaps Kell Brook knows something we don’t. After all, World Welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Marvelous Marvin Hagler by 12 round decision in 1987 to win the WBC World Middleweight title, and in 1988 jumped up in weight class again and won both the WBC World Super Middleweight and World Light Heavyweight titles at the same time by defeated Donnie LaLonde. Perhaps Kell Brook is the next Sugar Ray Leonard and can go from welterweight to middleweight, and will then go after the winner of Andre Berto versus Sergey Kovalev. Who knows?
Carlos Monzon vs Jose Napoles by TheGreatA