Posts Tagged With: Kell Brook

Piece of Resistance


This Saturday Kell Brook takes on Errol Spence Jr. for the IBF welterweight title, just one fight removed from his first defeat, moving up in weight to fight Gennady Golovkin.  Clearly, Spence is less of a physical force than Golovkin, but likely no less of a challenge.  Having dominated all his previous opponents, Spence convinced fans and analysts that he’s ready for the next level of competition, and Kell Brook fits the bill.  The only real name on his resume so far is Chris Algieri, who, admittedly, has only lost to Pacquiao and Khan, but is otherwise unaccomplished in his professional career (except for his defeat of Provodnikov).  Brook is similarly undistinguished in his record save for his victory over Shawn Porter, elevating him to the higher level of competition which granted him this match against a fighter who may be the next face of the sport.

Anyone watching the end of HBO’s broadcast of Crawford-Diaz this past weekend is likely to remember Max Kellerman’s effusive veneration of Spence in comparing his skill level, along with Crawford, to the greats in the history of the sport.  Kellerman suspects, he says, that Spence is special.  His choice of words for this statement was particularly appropriate, as Brook refers to himself as the Special One.  The fight is, indeed, a battle to prove who will be seen as the Special welterweight, and potentially the most marketable fighter behind Saul Alvarez.  Worldwide, Brook is probably better known than Spence because of the fight with Golovkin, but in America (where the money is), Spence has the advantage of being an Olympian.  Fighters featured in the Games have always enjoyed an automatic bump in popularity in the States.  He was the standout representative from our lackluster 2012 team, and has acquitted himself well since turning pro, but didn’t have enough to get the gold that year.  Of course, scoring in Olympic boxing over the past decade has been notoriously corrupt and inaccurate.  The question remains until this Saturday, who really is the next star of the division?  Who can be charismatic, talented and powerful enough to be the poster child?  It reminds me a bit of the plot line from The Lego Movie, where Chris Pratt plays the most ordinary lego-guy on the planet, but everyone around him keeps calling him “the special.”  He doesn’t believe it until the very end, but the viewer harbors a deep suspicion that he may well be more important than he realizes.

“Because the only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster but it’s true.” – The Lego Movie

Brook clearly believes himself to be that special.  He puts it on his boxing trunks.  It’s probably on his pajamas.  But Spence has been disappointed in the past when a lot of other people had faith in him.  Has his professional success buoyed his spirits to the point that he can overcome the force of skill commanded by Kell Brook?  He has a two-inch read advantage, which will go a long way, and he’s a few years younger, which never hurts.  Brook is more experienced, but still hasn’t faced anyone in his division at such a high level.  Golovkin, of course, is arguably just as talented and what he lacks in talent he makes up for in size and power.  It showed a lot of courage, confidence and amibition for Brook to face him.  That being said, Golovkin knocked Brook out in five rounds.

The fight for the “Special” crown will be exciting in terms of the future of the sport, but may not be quite as exciting to watch.  Both being slick fighters, Brook and Spence will probably spend a large part of the early rounds circling and jabbing, holding when their opponent gets too close.  For Brook, that period of hesitation should be encouragement to establish his range and then stay there.  Spence could conceivably stay on the outside for the whole fight and score enough points to win a decision.  At the same time, both fighters are willing to trade at times, and are more than capable of putting together devastating combinations.  Look for thrilling exchanges in the middle rounds, with one of the two (Spence, I’m guessing) getting ahead on points and then playing it safe for the last two to three rounds.  Both men are dangerous enough to command the respect of the other, and both will have a bright future beyond a loss in this fight.  If either of them has been avoided (and they’ll tell you they have), a loss will serve to bring them more lucrative and interesting opponents, while the winner will be set for marquee fights with the division’s biggest names.

All the champions at welterweight right now are marketable, some more so than others, but I could also see any of them being usurped at any given time.  Manny Pacquiao still holds the WBO belt, but is getting older and seems to be taking fights on a whim.  Keith Thurman holds both the WBA and the WBC belts, but showed himself to be fallible against Danny Garcia and also in previous fights.  Lamont Peterson even still holds a titular WBA belt, and Brook holds the last of the group.  With so much talent in the division it’s hard to believe a couple of those names won’t change by the end of the year, if not more than once.  The question is whether one of them will set themselves apart as being different, whether someone can clearly show themselves to be special.  It might not be this one, but at some point, after the dust has settled, the mandatories have been satisfied and the controversies cleared, the matchmakers will give us that epic fight between the best and the second best: the piece of resistance.

 

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Contradiction


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.

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Sure Thing


Three fights set for this Saturday feature prime talent facing less-than-desirable opposition. They all have reasons for taking these stepping-stone fights at this point in their career, with varying degrees of notoriety.

The most high-profile of the three will be Andre Ward making his return after having fought only twice in over three years.  Fans will get to see if the technician’s power translates to the new weight class (he took the light heavy title at a catchweight).  He’ll get to smooth out any wrinkles in his game created by inactivity and try to make us believe his talent can overcome Sergey Kovalev’s raw power.  In reality, Kovalev will be an entirely new level of challenge for Ward, but as convincing his performance was against Dawson, it’s hard to doubt his superiority.

The next most widely relevant fight between Kell Brook and Kevin Bizier will be another stepping stone in the journey for Brook, albeit one that he considers special.  Bizier is supposed to be the gateway to the big names that most fighters with Brook’s record are already signing fights against, even though Bizier isn’t as much of a presence in the sport as some previous Brook opponents.  Khan avoided the fight with Brook for good reason.  After he loses to Alvarez, assuming Brook wins this weekend, Khan should be willing to get in line for another loss given the financial benefits.

Finally, New Orleans native Regis Prograis makes another bid for attention, likely sporting his entertaining werewolf mask to the ring to put his formidable talent on display.  Look for an early knockout here, this kid is on his way.

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