Kell Brook – The Special One?
By Daniel Arissol
There is a man, a fighting man. He hails from Sheffield, England. He is undefeated in 36 professional fights. 25 of those fights have ended in knockouts. His speed and accuracy have led to many pugilists either avoiding the welterweight supremo or have simply woken up in the middle of the square ring with 20,000 fans screaming and chanting the name of the IBF champion of the world, Kell “The special one” Brook.
Brook won the title fighting against Shawn Porter in the stubhub centre in Carson, California back in August 2014. Most people had Porter pipped to win this bout, including the likes of fellow welterweights WBA champ Keith Thurman, Amir Khan and Devon Alexander. Porter had defeated Alexander to gain the IBF strap and knocked out Paulie Malignaggi in the 4th round in his first defence of the title. Kell had worked his way up the IBF rankings defeating the likes of Matthew Hatton, Carson Jones (twice) and Viacheslav Senchenko in order to be the mandatory contender for Porter’s belt. Once the bell rang for the first round of their title showdown in Carson we got what we expected from Porter. Sprawling shots from all angles that over-powered the likes of Malignaggi didn’t seem to have the same effect on the special one. Kell was simply picking and placing his shots and was countering accurately. The judges saw the cleaner work was coming from the challenger and at the end of 12 hard fought rounds between both fighters, Brook’s arm was raised as the victorious challenger after a majority decision. Porter’s trainer and father, Kenny Porter, had claimed that Brook was guilty of excessive clinching throughout the fight, however, this was not the general consensus amongst the boxing fraternity that saw the fight with many believing the decision should’ve gone Brooks way, although some claimed a draw was fairer. Team Porter made some noise about wanting a rematch but didn’t seem to force the issue and have since chosen a different route, Shawn is fighting Keith Thurman for his WBA title on June 25th at the Barclays centre, Brooklyn, New York.
Kell returned home to Sheffield to a heroes welcome and defended his world title against the little known Jo Jo Dan, winning via TKO in the 4th round. However, four weeks after winning the IBF title he went on a family vacation to Tenerife, Spain to relax and unwind with his loved ones. One night he was invited to a party which ended in an unprovoked machete attack. He was rushed to hospital were his condition was critical due to heavy blood loss. He needed 32 metal staples in his thigh and needed rehabilitation to be able to walk let alone run again. He has since made a 100% recovery and is aiming to dominate the welterweight division and possibly dip his toes a division above. He does have one problem in completing his quest though… He is the most avoided man in the division and one of the most avoided in boxing today.
Amir Khan, Danny Garcia and Timothy Bradley have all recently refused to enter negotiations for a mega fight with the IBF king. The British public would love Brook v Khan but even after his brutal KO defeat with Canelo, he is still unwilling to sign up for a huge domestic showdown. One man, however, is prepared to face him. WBO champion Jessie Vargas. Terms have been agreed and the date and venue seem to be 27th August at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. This unification fight will be shown as a PPV in the UK. Vargas (27-1-0 10ko) hails from Los Angeles but now fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He defeated the much heralded Sadam “world kid” Ali to claim the vacant WBO title. His only defeat came against Timothy Bradley via unanimous decision last June. Vargas will be seen as the best competitor since Porter but many see the result going the same way thus making Kell a two title world champion. Brook and his team have been looking for a big name to fight in the UK or US and, by unifying these titles, he should be one step closer to the winner of Thurman/Porter or even Khan. The WBC champion, Danny Garcia, may have to defend against Khan this year which potentially could lead to another unification fight.
With Kell now 30 years of age he is now undoubtedly in his prime. He is in a division with big names. He has a good promoter and he is a current undefeated world champion. He has all the attributes to be the star name in the division and be a global star in the process. When you look at the meteoric rise of someone like Anthony Joshua, who has been knocking out second and third rate opponents on his way to the farcical world title UK PPV against the terrible Charles Martin, there seems to be a gulf of popularity amongst TV networks that really can be the difference between world champion and global superstar. Perhaps the likes of Al Haymon’s PBC will assist all fighters by showing live events on free TV so new boxing fans with no prejudice will decide for themselves who really deserves their attention. After all, boxing is and always has been a sport for the masses. As for Kell Brook, his public eagerly await with baited breath. World champion or global superstar.