By: Ste Rowen
Where did it all suddenly go wrong for Kell Brook?
The former IBF welterweight world champion was set to fight on the undercard of Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr last weekend, but the issues with Kell’s career have been obvious for a while now, and been going on much longer than his most recent pull out, which would’ve been Kell’s first appearance in the US since his points victory over Shawn Porter to claim the aforementioned IBF strap back in 2014. Almost five years ago, how has this been allowed to happen?
Looking back now, it seems that, that was the peak bout boxing fans were treated to of a ‘prime’ Brook, but since then, overmatched opponents, underwhelming wins, and brave but ultimately dominating defeats have followed. A man who was on the verge of creeping into the pound-for-pound list, has faded into obscurity.
If a reporter writes about Kell Brook without mentioning Amir Khan, does it make a sound?
A big reason for Kell’s demise seems to revolve around Bolton’s finest. Khan was an Olympic silver medallist, Brook only achieved domestic success at amateur level; when Khan fought and lost to Canelo, Brook signed on to fight and inevitably lose to Golovkin. Compare Brooks bouts as a champion, Amir has fought a murderer’s row of challengers. Yet the two have constantly been at each other and every single interview they do, questions about the other man are brought up.
Even promoter, Eddie Hearn has, on multiple occasions promised Brook/Khan would be made, even going to the effort of signing Khan to Matchroom which gave fans false hope that the domestic showdown was inevitable. But of course, boxing did what boxing does and made us wait, and wait… and wait. Even if the two former world champions keep calling each other out, it’s not happening and if by some miracle the two sides agree to terms and sign to fight, it will be a match up at least five years too late.
And so, on to the current day. ‘Special K’ was due to fight on the undercard of Joshua/Ruiz Jr but reportedly dropped out due to not being able to secure a good enough opponent. Add to the fact that he hasn’t fought since December in a disappointing unanimous decision win over Michael Zerafa and it’s been an extremely frustrating year for the Sheffield native.
An ankle injury in mid-2018 and the split from long time trainer Dominic Ingle, apparently due to Ingle’s other stable commitments, mean that things have snowballed into the current situation, which is… Well what is it? Kell is neither retired nor active. It could be argued that his last significant victory was almost five years ago in that crowning decision win over Shawn Porter. A tremendous night for Brook and British boxing but, what since?
After defeat to Errol Spence in May 2017 the former IBF welterweight champion vowed to make the jump to junior middleweight and challenge Jermell Charlo and then champion, Jarrett Hurd. Instead fans were treated to a two-round destruction of Sergey Rabchenko – an understandable first bout in a new division – but the Rabchenko win was followed by nine months of wondering and then what can only be described as, a ‘stinker’ of a victory over twelve rounds against the aforementioned, Zerafa under new trainer John Fewkes.
Recently a lot of the talk from Kell’s camp has been either about Khan or a rematch with Spence, this is despite fans being constantly told how hard Brook worked to boil himself down to 147lb. The propaganda regarding Kell’s weight would only make sense if he was making waves and worrying the Americans at 154lb, but he’s not.
In the same time that Brook has lost his IBF welterweight strap, made the jump to junior-middle and suddenly vanished, Jarrett Hurd has unified the 154 division, defended his belts once, and then lost them. All in the space of eleven months. Jermell Charlo in that same space of time KO’d rising star, Erickson Lubin within one round, made the third defence of his WBC title against Austin Trout and then was surprisingly defeated via decision to Tony Harrison last December.
Brook, Hurd and Charlo have all lost, but which fighters remain the more relevant?
And that’s where the ‘Special One’ find himself now, lost in no man’s land of being unable to draw the biggest welterweights to him, and unwilling to take on the best of the best at 154lb.
If if he really did want titles at junior middle, his chance has gone as Tony Harrison is locked in to a rematch with Jermell Charlo, and it appears newly crowned WBA and IBF champ, Julian Williams is also secured for a rematch with Jarrett Hurd.
The only other title holder at 154 is Jaime Munguia who, after the Mexican’s controversial majority decision victory over Dennis Hogan, appears to be Brook’s best chance to become a two-weight world champion, but is the ambition even there anymore for the Sheffield native? And would it matter if it was?
In reality, for Brook to cement some sort of winning legacy it all comes back to Amir Khan.
However much hardcores and casuals alike say it’s passed its sell-by-date, you know for sure that if it happens, they’ll tune in. I only need to look in the mirror and see my own hypocrisy to admit that it’s years too late, but I would still tune in for Brook/Khan.
In the end, the following two things are not mutually exclusive; Brook can be enormously proud of the professional career he has accumulated, whilst also ultimately being extremely disappointed by the resume he ‘might’ leave behind.