Last Saturday night saw one of the most eagerly awaited fights in a long time. British hopeful Kell Brook versus the Kazakh superstar Gennady Golovkin. Few gave Brook a chance against the big hitting champion and the fact that Brook had moved up through the weight divisions did not inspire confidence. Make no mistake, Brook is a great fighter but Golovkin is likely to go down in history as one of the biggest punchers of all time.
There was a full house at genuine international interest in this one. No hype or histrionics from either fighter was necessary to gain public attention. This was big. The fact it was big, gives boxing a problem.
Fights are scheduled for twelve, three minute rounds and the expectation from the paying public is that a decent proportion of those rounds takes place and that the protagonists actually engage with one another. This particular fight was never going to be a borefest but there were plenty learned judges who thought the fight would come to the premature conclusion few really wanted.
The fight started at a frenetic pace. Golovkin always seemed in charge in my opinion but Brook's tactics seemed to worry him and the upper cut in particular gave him some success. Then, still early in the fight, came an injury. Brook's eye seemed to start bothering him. There was some external marking but there was no real sign that Brook was about to hit the canvas. He fought on, as boxer do.
Then the towel is thrown in and the derision of the crowd, who had paid good money to watch this tear up, began and was aimed entirely at Brook's corner for having the temerity to end their evening early. The referee had no reason to stop the fight as there was no real sign of danger albeit that Golovkin was starting to dominate and would, I have no doubt, ended victorious regardless of the intervention.
The phrase "duty of care" is banded about often in the modern world but this was the premise in action. Dominic Ingle knows is a highly respected figure in boxing and knows his fighters better than anyone. He had no duty of care to the crowd at ringside or to the television audience and his decision will have to been to protect his fighter. Fighting one of the biggest punchers in the game with only one functioning eye is rarely a good career move.
Boxing fans do need to accept that care of the boxers trumps the cost of their ticket. The "what if" scenario rears its head. What if the fight had continued and Brook had been badly hurt only for it come out in the media that he only had one functioning eye. Boxing critics would have gone into overdrive.
Dominic Ingle took a brave decision and one he should be applauded for. As for Kell Brook, as he says, he will be back...