Gennady Golovkin walked out of a packed 02 Arena in London still wearing his many middleweight world titles on Saturday night but his face wore the marks of opponent Kell Brooks huge but unsucessful effort to produce a massive upset.
Usually a slow starter who breaks down his rivals in a measured pace, Golovkin attempted to KO Brook immediately from the first bell, firing full-blooded shots into the IBF welterweight champion, who had come up two divisions to face the most feared boxer on the planet.
Captured on the ropes, Brook was speared with a left to the ribs that buckled his knees badly and forced the Sheffield man to grab hold of his antagonist.
Brook rebounded in the second frame to whip startling combinations to the head of Golovkin, who was finally facing an opponent to expose the Kazak star's straight up Eastern European style.
No one had ever done that to Golovkin in a pro fight and "GGG" started the third round intent on putting an end to the local man's insurrection, battering Brook with everything he had. But Brook weathered the storm and even dished out more punishment to the middleweight champion.
By the fourth, Brook was still whipping accurate shots on Golovkin but the challenger's resolve was starting to crack under the massive weight of the visitor's lethal punches. Adding to Brook's visible discomfort was a broken right eye socket that he had suffered in the second round.
The fifth saw Golovkin produce a dominant display of offense that had Brook seemingly at the end of his rope, prompting trainer Dominic Ingle to literally throw in the towel and end the fight.
Golovkin came through unquestionably the toughest fight of his pro career and was even shaken a few times by the quick-handed Brook but the Englishman simply did not have the chin necessary to stand up to the champion's breath-taking power punches.
Is there anyone fighting below light heavyweight that can take Golovkin's punch? Probably not, but Brook did display the game plan that it will take to defeat "GGG". The fighter that ultimately is able to pull off that feat will be a boxer that won't allow Golovkin to trap him in the ring and simply fire away, while at the same time, will outbox Golovkin while keeping him off balance and defensive.
Floyd Mayweather Jr?