“British welterweight sensation to take on hard-hitting middleweight champion.”
Never in boxing history has such a unique statement been so straight forwardly applicable to two fights that are so very different. Yet, that is the case when Kell Brook vs Gennady Golovkin and Amir Khan vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez are put under the microscope.
The use of a microscope is definitely needed though, because on the surface both fights are replicas. However, a look beneath the exterior shows just how different these fights are.
The first way in which Brook-Golovkin differs from Khan-Alvarez is the much maligned weight difference between the Brits and their bigger opponents. Between welterweight (where both Khan and Brook have most recently fought) and middleweight (where Golovkin reigns and where Alvarez won a world title) is a 13lb/5.9kg/just under one stone weight difference.
Amir Khan started his career at lightweight. Amir Khan was knocked out at lightweight, four divisions (around two stone in weight) below middleweight. Khan was also put on the deck at light-welterweight and knocked out at welterweight. A man who has struggled with the power of men of around 10 stone should not be fighting anyone who is around 12 stone. It is that simple.
Brook on the other hand has fought his whole career – including as an amateur – as a welterweight, two divisions (around one stone) below middleweight. Whilst still a fair jump, this is a leap that MMA fighters make all the time and it is fairly normal for a fighter with a prolonged career to move up that amount.
Kell Brook is also a very big welterweight. Those who have been following his career have been waiting for him to move up a division, given he openly admits he finds it hard to make the welterweight limit. Kell has already fought at light-middleweight, in his rematch vs Carson Jones, giving him more experience fighting at a higher weight than Khan had.
Most tellingly though, is how Brook has done against bigger opponents. The aforementioned Carson Jones has knocked out fighters at light-middleweight and he hit Brook with all he had in their first fight but couldn’t finish him. In Brook’s world title winning fight, he took on arguably the most physically strong welterweight today in American Shawn Porter.
Porter fought most of his amateur career as a middleweight, beating the likes of Edwin Rodriguez (now a light-heavyweight contender), Demetrius Andrade (current light-middleweight world champion) and even Daniel Jacobs (current middleweight world champion). In their match up, Brook impressively handled Porter’s physical strength and punch power.
At the same time, it must be noted that Amir Khan didn’t really ever prove himself at welterweight as Brook did against Porter. At his heaviest, Khan has yet to overly impress. Granted, he handily beat Devon Alexander and Luis Collazo, two solid – if perhaps past their peak – perennial contenders. But in his last fight against Chris Algieri, a fighter largely seen as a gatekeeper to the true elite of the division, Khan struggled. In comparison, Kell Brook is rated by the likes of Ring Magazine as the number one welterweight in the world.
Away from Brook and Khan, there is a difference in the situations that Golovkin and Alvarez are in too. Gennady Golovkin is arguably the most feared middleweight in the last 15 years. The fact that he has knocked out his last 22 opponents in a calm, efficient, yet brutal manner means no one really wants to fight him. The other world champions in his division – Billy Joe Saunders and Daniel Jacobs – barely mention his name as a possible opponent unless it is to make it clear they want astronomical fees to get in a ring with him. He has only really been able to find B or even C level opponents to take him on as they have nothing to lose and a career high paycheque to gain from taking on the Kazakhstani destroyer.
On the other hand, there is a plethora of fighters willing to take on Alvarez. Granted, most just want the big payday that taking him on offers, but those calling him out also see weaknesses they feel they can exploit, weaknesses seen in close fights against the likes of Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.
Golovkin vs Brook was made after Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn was unable to get his fighter Chris Eubank Jr – a dangerous middleweight contender – to agree terms to take on GGG, leaving them with a show with no headline act. Alvarez vs Khan was made after Alvarez’s promotional team decided to settle on a big name opponent rather than a worthy opponent.
Put simply, Alvarez could have chosen anyone to fight and went for a somewhat unworthy contender in Khan. Golovkin only has had limited realistic options to fight and Brook is probably the biggest name of them all.
Finally, even with his status as world champion, the boxing world is waiting for Brook to prove just how good he is. A great but scrappy world title win against the hard-to-look-too-good-against battler that is Shawn Porter was a showcase for Brook being able to stay composed, focused and tidy under pressure. An undefeated world champion with one punch knockout power, accuracy, finesse and proven toughness, it is time to see how good Brook really can be. A fight against Golovkin will give him that opportunity. This is not to say Brook deserves the fight, but with everyone else avoiding GGG, why not see what Brook can do against him?
Amir Khan on the other hand, has sped through his career and already had quite a few defining fights. We know he has an amazing offensive arsenal but under pressure against someone with power, he is unlikely to succeed. His win against Marcos Maidana is likely to be Khan’s best ever win. After his Algieri performance and already having had several wars and two knockout defeats on his record, for Khan to get the Alvarez fight was farcical.
Despite all the aforementioned differences, it is still likely that Brook-Golovkin fight will end in the same fashion as the Khan-Alvarez. Nevertheless, it would be wise to remember that all stories that end the same do not always follow the same plot.
The irony is that it would make much more sense for the sport of boxing to see Brook vs Khan and Golovkin vs Alvarez. However, such is the nature of the business of boxing, we are set to see – for the second time this year – one of the best welterweights in the world take on one of the best middleweights in the world.
Twitter – @JazzTheJourno