Kell Brook posing ()Kell Brook posing () © Copyright

‘If I get past this fight, the world is at my feet’

As a nine-year-old, Kell Brook walked through the doors of Brendan Ingle’s world-famous boxing gym and promised to himself that he’d be a star.

All has gone to plan since. Brook is the current IBF welterweight champion, is undefeated in 36 fights and is ranked as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. He has natural talent and is engaging enough to hold a crowd.

It looks like it’s all come easily for Brook, but it hasn’t. He’s still yet to have that one career-defining fight that people remember over the titles and all the PPV sales – Calzaghe vs Lacy, Hatton vs Tszyu or Froch vs Groves.

Until now, that is.

On 10 September at the O2 Arena in London, Brook will be facing the most-feared man in boxing – Gennady Gennadyevich ‘Triple G’ Golovkin.

Kell Brook Gennady Golovkin  ()

 

The fight for Golovkin’s WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight championships appears to be a gross mismatch on paper. Golovkin is a natural middleweight at 160lb, is two weights heavier than welterweight Brook at 147lb, is 35-0 (32 by way of knockout), and has a reputation as a fearsome puncher. He’s the fighter that the rest of the boxing world has been avoiding.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted, to be competing at the highest level in the sport,” Brook tells us, as he takes a breather from training. He’s in camp in Fuerteventura, and has a legion of talent preparing him for this fight. “This is my level. I’m going to go out there and show the world why I’m a champion.

“Everyone’s writing me off, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he adds. “I want it to be the fight where I show the world that I’m the best pound-for-pound fighter, the best in any weight division.”

There’s good reason people are writing Brook off, though. It’s becoming increasingly clear that ‘Triple G’ is the best boxer on the planet. In the twilight of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s indomitable career, the US-based Kazakh was regarded as the pretender to his pound-for-pound throne.

Kell Brook ()

 

Golovkin does not possess the enigmatic qualities of defence that made Mayweather Jr so impressive to watch, nor does he have the ferocity of a peak Mike Tyson – but he’s just brilliant at everything. He also has the God-given quality that turns very good boxers into great ones: knockout power. So why on earth would Kell Brook – a spectacular fighter in his own right – want to risk his whole career by stepping into the ring with a smiling assassin?

“I’m 30 years old now,” Brook explains. “I don’t want to look back on my career and think what if – you know ‘what if’. I know I have to test myself now.”

He understands that at 30, he’s a 12-year veteran of the sport, who until now has achieved everything there is to achieve. He’s been the outright British champion at welterweight, sells out regularly to a devoted home crowd at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, and has finally entered the British sporting public’s consciousness.

So far, however, the opportunity to demonstrate the intangible that defines a fighter’s legacy – the heart and courage in the face of any challenge – has eluded him. He only has a clutch of fights against rated opponents, and the best name on his résumé to date was teak-tough American Shawn Porter, who Brook stripped of his IBF championship in 2014. Beating Golovkin would send Brook into the pantheon of greats.

“I’m not a regular fighter, I want to leave an unbelievable legacy behind,” he says. “I want people to speak about my name when I’m finished. I want people to talk about me as one of the best fighters that has ever lived.”

Kell Brook delivers an uppercut ()

 

WHAT MAKES K SPECIAL?

Products of the Ingle Gym have always been urged to dream, no matter their background, circumstance or personality. It hasn’t mattered whether greatness seemed predetermined or that mediocrity looked inevitable. If you boxed at the Wincobank gym under the tutelage of Brendan Ingle, your eyes were told to look past the horizon and focus firmly on the stars.

This ethos has made champions from dazzling talents such as ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed and Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, and the less remarkable – but champions all the same – Johnny Nelson and Clinton Woods.

Brook fits the Ingle mould nicely. He’s certainly put in the hard graft and now his dream to be one of the biggest names is sport is a reality.

“Absolutely there’s a fear factor going into this fight,” Brook admits. “I need to have one. I’m liking it, you know, it’s making me push myself in the gym and I’m trying to do my absolute best in training.

“I know it could be be a lonely night in there, a hard night,” he continues. “The fear factor of this fight is making me work so hard and powering me on.”

But what does Brook think he has to prevent him from becoming just another statistic for Golovkin’s record? Other than fear driving him on impulse, what has he got in his arsenal to disrupt Triple G?

Gennady Golovkin GGG vs. Dominic Wade ()

 

“I’m going to be bringing the speed I have now, and I’m going to have even more power.” Brook says. “Sure, he’s boxed world champions before, but I’m from the old school, I’m an Ingle fighter. I know I can adapt and see what he has. See if the hype is real.

“I’m undefeated, and I’m not there to lose. I believe I can pull it out of the bag. To do that, I’ll have to do everything I want to do, when I want to do it.”

Those who surround Brook, such as trainer Dominic Ingle and promoter Eddie Hearn, share his belief that he can win this fight. “Looking at him from nine years old, the one thing I’ve said over and over again is that he always finds a way,” Ingle told Sky Sports News in July. “He did against Shawn Porter and he did against Carson Jones – halfway through that fight when it all started going wrong, he found a way to win.

“Some have said Eddie Hearn was cashing in on Kell Brook, but this is a fight where you can’t even think about money because you’re going to get hurt. Gennady’s unbeaten and Kell’s unbeaten. There is a reason for that and it’s because they are both very good fighters.”

This is an absolutely MASSIVE fight

If legacy is all that occupies Brook’s psyche, then he’ll surely have had one eye on rival Amir Khan’s attempt to do exactly the same thing against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May. As we know now, Khan isn’t short on heart but couldn’t stand up to the Mexican’s ferocious punching power, having been brutally KO’d in the fifth round of their fight. Does this play on Brook’s mind?

In short, no. Even if a potential all-British blockbuster between him and Khan beckons, Brook refuses to look past the task at hand. “I’m a different fighter to Amir. I don’t know what’s next to be honest, it’s about winning this fight,” he says. “If I get past this fight, the world is at my feet and I am the man. I don’t need to be thinking past that.”

We’d agree with this sentiment, too. In the ring, challenges don’t come any bigger than this. Go on, son!

Images: Press Association, Alamy, Getty Images

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