Following his triumphant demolition of the delicate Amir Khan, Saul Alvarez had strong words about the possible match with Gennady Golovkin, saying things like “we can put on the gloves and fight right now, we don’t fuck around.” After all, he had just won a middleweight title, somehow. Of course, neither fighter was actually at 160 pounds in that fight, but nevermind that. Alvarez won by knockout and showed the kind of ferocity his fans have been longing for since we first watched him on television. He didn’t really want to put the gloves back on and fight him right at that moment, but we thought he might be willing to make him his next opponent. Alvarez ended up making what was probably the smart decision, and declined the offer, giving up his “middleweight title.” Fans and commentators criticized him for the deicsion, and Golovkin says it made him lose respect for Alvarez, but as Ring magazine pointed out in its most recent issue, it wasn’t long ago that fans were pushing for a fight between Golovkin and Andre Ward, who even now isn’t a full-size light heavyweight. Golovkin openly admitted that Ward was too big for him, even though the difference between weight classes is about the same(13 pounds from welter to middleweight, 15 pounds from middle to light heavyweight). Maybe Alvarez shouldn’t have made such a big deal about being willing to fight him right away, but it seems his place as fighter-most-willing-to-take-anyone-on is secure. At least, he’s as willing as anyone else.
Last night Danny Jacobs set the record straight, breaking down his opponent in a rematch from last August when Sergio Mora put on a good show until his ankle broke during a fall. The result of the previous fight implied that Mora might have a shot against Jacobs, scoring a knockdown early in the fight before his injury. In the rematch, Jacobs showed superior power from the outset, and Mora showed no improvement in his strategy, electing to slug with Jacobs and fight off the ropes when necessary. Jacobs may have more talent than we’ve given him credit for in the past, and his power seems to carry him through a lot of situations where he’d otherwise be outsmarted. Mora, on the other hand, has been fighting to establish relevance, if not dominance, for years. With yet another loss on his record, it seems he’ll never quite make it to that level. His best hope will be to spend a few years serving as official gatekeeper for young fighters who haven’t been tested yet, then fade away into anonymity, and hopefully, preserve his health.
Tonight’s fight features an unusual match between Golovkin and Brook, drawing comparison to the weight disadvantage overcome by Ray Robinson taking on Jake Lamotta. Clearly, “Special K” Kell Brook is no Ray Robinson, but whether he’s special enough to handle Golovkin remains to be seen. Golovkin is the only one with a lot to lose here, because if he doesn’t do very well, as Alvarez did against Khan, then his reputation will suffer greatly. If, on the other hand, Brook were to get blown away in the first or second round, fans would chalk it up to the size difference and move on with their lives. Golovkin speculates that appearing vulnerable might be the only way to attract Alvarez for their showdown. I won’t hold my breath, but it might not be up to Golovkin whether he appears vulnerable this time. Brook is fast and accurate enough to force Golovkin to measure his power. If Golovkin’s too wild, Brook may be able to score enough points to win rounds, and make the decision close.
After five years of writing about the sport, I’ve come to expect the contradictions you see every time you watch a fight. It can be frustrating, but that’s also what makes the science sweet. Tonight, Golovkin will probably beat Brook, probably by knockout. Unless Brook wins, which can’t happen. Unless it does.