Kell Brook, Jessie Vargas, To Meet In Welterweight Title Unifier
By: Sean Crose
IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook is finally getting the kind of opponent fans will be satisfied seeing him face. For the talented Brit is now set to battle the WBO welterweight champ, Jessie Vargas later this summer – an official date has yet to be set – in Sheffield, England, Brook’s home town. What makes this match particularly notable is the fact that the winner will actually hold two world title belts in the same division, something that isn’t nearly as common as it should be in contemporary boxing (there’s a reason middleweight Gennady Golovkin is considered a refreshing oddity these days for wanting “all the belts” in his division).
To be sure, Brook (36-0) is known as one of best welterweights in the world at the moment. Indeed, some see the man as being THE best welterweight in the world now that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have “retired.” Fans have been frustrated, however, that Brook hasn’t faced a major foe since besting the terrific Shawn Porter in 2014. Truth be told, however, that may not entirely be Brook’s fault. Significant matches against the likes of Tim Bradley (what a fight that would be) and Brandon Rios having fallen through in discussion. What’s more, fellow big name British welterweight Amir Khan doesn’t appear deeply interested in facing Brook, for whatever reason.
Brook’s certainly up against a legitimate foe in Vargas (27-1), however. For this is the same Vargas who obliterated rising star Sadam Ali by knocking the man out just a few months ago. This is also the same Vargas who almost knocked out Tim Bradley in the closing seconds of their bout last summer. Will Vargas be up to the challenge of facing Brook, though? It wasn’t as if Bradley hadn’t been dominating his fight with Vargas up until the very end, after all. What’s more, Ali was a rising star rather than a proven commodity – a fine distinction – when Vargas introduced him to the canvas.
Then again, there are still question marks circling Brook, as well. This writer pegged him to be a serious threat at welterweight well before he won his title off of Porter, but Porter is the only true “name” the man has faced. While he’s truly big and talented, it’s hard to deny that Brook is still somewhat untested. That being said, it would be quite a surprise if Brook were to lose this fight. Oh, it wouldn’t be upset of the year material, but Brook heretofore has proven to have a more impressive skill set than Vargas does.
Taking a wider view of things, it appears that the welterweight division is in movement at the moment. In other words, roles are actively being defined in the post Mayweather-Pacquiao era. WBC titlist Danny Garcia may be less than enthralled with the prospect of proving he’s the best, but other major welters like Brook, Vargas and Bradley are ripe and ready to compete. Furthermore, WBA welterweight champ Keith Thurman will be facing Porter this June in what’s an extremely intriguing matchup.
A pecking order will soon emerge.