EVEN in defeat, Saturday could turn out to be one of Kell Brook’s best ever nights.
The Sheffield star will not feel like that way when he goes under the knife later today to repair the broken eye socket Gennady Golovkin’s wicked left hook gave him at the O2.
Brook, 30, was rightly pulled out by trainer Dominic Ingle in the fifth round of what turned out to be a thrilling WBC and IBF middleweight clash in front of 17,500 frenzied fans.
The IBF welterweight champion made the bold move to step up 13lbs and face one of the most fearsome punchers in middleweight history.
In the end, it was a too big a jump in weight and too big a jump in class as Golovkin overpowered Brook to hand him his first defeat in 37 fights.
Up until the towel came in, the Brit played his part in a cracking clash that nearly took the roof off the Greenwich arena.
Brook’s eye damage left him seeing “three or four Golovkins” but he believes Ingle got it right to pull him out and he now expects to make a full recovery.
Now Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn hopes this brave performance will make him a star with the ‘Special One’ expected to give up his IBF welterweight crown and campaign at light-middleweight.
“I just looked at Twitter and was doing some retweets,” Hearn said. “Jamie Moore, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard, Paul Smith, Joe Calzaghe, these are all giving him recognition.
“I always knew that whatever happened in this fight, Kell Brook would compete with Gennady Golovkin. So if he lost, his stock would rise considerably, and I feel it has.
“We are in a better position now. If he had of just vacated the welterweight title he was back to being a challenger but now he’s got a lot of options.”
One of those options is facing Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, according to Hearn, but first the Mexican has a date with Brook’s compatriot – and sparring partner – Liam Smith, who defends his WBO light-middleweight title in Texas on Saturday.
Another is returning to welterweight just once more if Amir Khan will put the bitterness between them aside to take the fight, but that seems unlikely.
For Golovkin’s future it is all about adding the WBO title to his collection of WBC, IBF and WBA belts.
First he may have to face WBA mandatory challenger Daniel Jacobs, but Britain’s WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders is in his sights.
“I want unification fights,” Golovkin said after extending his impressive record to 33 stoppage wins in 36 victories and not one defeat. “My goal is all the belts.”
His promoter Tom Loeffler is hoping the size of the event at the weekend will entice Saunders to take on the challenge after failed negotiations earlier this year.
Saunders insists he is ready, but seeing Golovkin so vicious on these shores may make him even harder to get into a contract to face the Kazakh KO king.
Golovkin’s left hook to the body and then to the head in the first almost ended this early, and the sound of both shots whipping in could be heard over the crowd roars.
The Kazakh’s straight rights looked simple as he easily closed the distance on Brook and never gave him a moments rest before he revealed how the Sheffield fighter was struggling to breathe when the stoppage came.
Golovkin’s finish was hard to watch as he unloaded blow after blow as Ingle furiously waved the towel trying to get referee Marlon Wright’s attention.
But he did take his fair share of shots from Brook – 85 to be precise – including one huge left uppercut as he looked for a brawl despite being the better boxer because the Brit could not hurt him.
The unbeaten superstar happily ate punches to land his own and it was magnificent to take in.
“I am crazy, I wanted a street fight,” Golovkin said. “I don’t feel power, I said, come on, come on, I want more.”
Golovkin said it with a smile but it was a chilling thought. This is a man who just wants to fight and it helps that he is brilliant at it.