The one black mark you can place against the resumé of outstanding world middleweight champion Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin is that, through no fault of his own, he is yet to taste a truly career-defining victory.
Many rank him as boxing’s leading pound-for-pound fighter but that is down to the imperious manner of his 35 victories rather than the quality of the scalps he has collected.
The Kazakh, 34, will tonight look to add another to his unblemished body of work when IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook jumps up two divisions to challenge him at the 02 Arena in London. Brook is the most talented man Triple G has faced so far but the weight issue means few are giving him a prayer. A 23rd consecutive knockout victory for Golovkin will again reinforce the message that he is a special talent at the peak of his powers, but may also just be another baby step towards the kind of lasting legacy he is so desperate to forge.
Triple G’s best win so far was his one-sided eight-round deconstruction of David Lemieux in a unification bout last year, a man who will be a mere footnote in modern middleweight history. Beating Saul Alvarez remains his obvious route to the pinnacle of boxing but the Mexican’s team has no intention of taking that sort of risk any time soon. The 26-year-old surrendered his WBC belt rather than face Golovkin and few believe his promise that the fight will happen next year.
The opposition running scared is nothing new, however, and with fellow middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr both unwilling to sign on the dotted line, it was left to Brook to step up.
Like Triple G, he has found it impossible to secure the big fights he craves. The 30-year-old might just be the best welterweight in the world but he has been unable to prove it. Eye-watering offers have failed to tempt the stellar names, notably his bitter rival Amir Khan, who instead trousered a huge purse to be ruthlessly knocked out by Alvarez in a grim 155-pound mismatch back in May.
For Brook this is a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, as he too takes drastic measures to secure the biggest payday of his career. The physical disparity might not be quite as profound, but the home fighter’s disadvantages against a true middleweight with freakish punching power are glaringly obvious. Brook watched Khan pick up an estimated £7 million (Dh34.2m) jackpot for the Canelo fight, and you couldn’t blame him for feeling a tinge of envy these past two years as his Matchroom stablemate Anthony Joshua’s popularity has skyrocketed, or even as other British world champions like Carl Frampton and Anthony Crolla secured big unification bouts.
A frustrated Brook has deemed it time to cash in. He’s had enough of watching the blockbuster pay-per-views from his sofa. He wants a piece of the action, no matter what it takes, and that attitude has landed him across the ring from the most avoided boxer in the world.
Victory is not impossible, of course, but it will take a performance perhaps not even Brook is aware he is capable of. Logic points clearly to Golovkin walking him down and stopping him in the middle to late rounds.
The Kazakh won 390 of 395 amateur fights prior to his flawless professional run. He has never been down once in all that time. He doesn’t have off nights and the opportunity to wow a booming UK boxing market isn’t lost on him or his management. Triple G may not get the fights he wants, so he knows it is all on him to entertain. He has to bring what he calls his “Mexican style” and his “big drama show.” So far he has never failed to deliver.
For both men it is a marriage of convenience but Brook may find out, as many have before, that if you walk down the aisle for the wrong reasons, it invariably ends in tears.