Brook’s Three-Man Shortlist for his Return
By: Jordan Seward
After Kell Brook’s audacious attempt to take Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight titles ended in a 5th round stoppage and a broken orbital bone, it’s no secret he’ll be out the ring for a while.
Yet, his next opponent is already being heavily speculated and has got people on the edge of their chairs, despite it realistically not taking place until next spring. On taking the fight with Golovkin, Brook’s future seemed destined at a higher weight – the middleweight division or the 154lbs division looked like strong possibilities.
While the future of the current IBF world welterweight champion is unclear, as he recovers from the injuries sustained against ‘GGG’, there’s been a host of big names in various different divisions and some, who, currently aren’t specified to a division being linked as Brook’s next opponent.
Typically, after suffering the kind of injuries Brook did, the next fight is somewhat of an ease you back in, a tune-up fight if you will, before progressing on to greener pastures. But this is Brook. A pure pugilist who showed no fear or hesitation in stepping up two weight divisions and getting in with a guy who’s knocking people out for fun.
In this case, a tune-up fight may not be what Eddie Hearn and Brook opt for, although Dominic Ingle (Brook’s trainer) may wish for one. There’s been a lot of speculation on Brook’s next opponent and let’s take a look at the three-man shortlist drawn up.
1. Amir Khan
Of course, it had to be. The Kell Brook-Amir Khan saga has gone on for well over a year now and we still aren’t any closer to finding out if these two will ever fight each other. It was supposed to be last summer at Wembley but it never materialised – as a keen onlooker I must admit it did seem it wasn’t for the lack of trying by the Brook camp. One minute the star Amir Khan returned and wanted the big names – your Mayweather’s, your Pacquiao’s of this world, not your Brook’s of this world. Khan back then was a big name in his own right but the reality of it was then and still is now, Brook is a world champion, Khan is not. Furthermore, this fight probably has more chance of happening now and that’s because Brook has made a name for himself off the back of a loss, which, ironically happens more than you’d think in boxing. Khan felt he didn’t need Brook back then because he was a bigger name, arguably, the roles have reversed now and Khan’s sudden rise in optimism for this fight could be seen as confirmation of that. It’s either fine fortune or immensely clever promotional tactics because now this fight is bigger than ever. The fight has been backed by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, in recent weeks and he wants to see the fight take place at Wembley, which, if it did happen would be the first fight at the stadium since George Groves’ rematch against Carl Froch. The confusing part to this fight is the weight issue. Last time out for Khan he fought at a 155lb catch weight whereas Brook fought at the middleweight limit of 160lbs and both fighters’ future weight category is yet to be classified, but this shouldn’t prove too problematic.
There’s no doubt that this would make for an incredible fight but for now Khan is out for the remainder of the year after revealing he has fought with a broken hand for the past 13 years, and Brook is recovering from his eye surgery.
Hopefully we will see this happen one day and not allow the rivalry and potential of this fight to rot and stale like Mayweather and Pacquiao’s – so sometime next year please.
2. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
The highly rated Mexican and current WBO super-welterweight champion is a name being heavily linked with Brook. The forever ongoing speculation of a fight between Canelo and Golovkin seems to be more of a fantasy than a reality and maybe it’s time to resign to the fact this one may just not happen. Golovkin looks set to fight the WBA world middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs next. Which means the active Canelo will need an opponent too. Eddie Hearn has already confirmed that HBO are interested in a potential fight between Canelo and Brook for next May. With a clear desire and off the back of Golovkin’s post-fight chat the Brit is most likely to occupy in the 154lb division as opposed to hang around at middleweight, which is also the division Canelo seems comfortable at and unwilling to change. Canelo has already defeated two Brit’s this year and it’s becoming a bit of a regular theme so there’s every chance that when Brook return’s to the ring these two could well go to war, which I’m sure we’d all like to see. Canelo is aggressive and likes to come on to the front foot and fight on the inside while Brook boxes very well off the back foot as he displayed against Shawn Porter when he won the IBF world welterweight title in California two years ago. I think although Brook would technically be stepping down a weight, it’s still a higher weight than he’s used to and like Golovkin, Canelo punches with a force much mightier than your typical super-welterweight. Nevertheless, I would argue Brook has the skills to give Canelo a much tougher fight than Liam Smith did and going off that fight, HBO would be well within their rights to make this a PPV fight, which in all honesty I think it would be.
3. Miguel Cotto
The popular Puerto Rican may well make his highly anticipated return to the ring against Brook which would certainly be a main event fight. Cotto hasn’t fought since he lost his WBC world middleweight title by unanimous decision to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez last November and now, at 35-years-old, I can’t help but wonder what he has left in the tank. The four weight world champion has had a glittering career but with a year of inactivity I would have to assume if this fight was to take place sometime next year, he’d probably fall short of his otherwise classy and usual standards.
Despite this, Cotto is still a huge name in boxing and Eddie Hearn has been very vocal and optimistic with this one. Hearn has made it no secret that Cotto is definitely part of his plans for Brook’s return to the ring next year.
Undoubtedly, Cotto is still capable of mixing it with the best but I would fancy Brook in this fight, presuming he fully recovers from the eye injury. Brook’s height and reach advantage, along with his speed, would allow him to use the boxing skills he has in his arsenal and take home a points decision. However, it’s Cotto, he is a classy fighter and with 33KO’s in 40 wins that Puerto Rican fire would well still be burning and if so that could be bad news for ‘The Special One’. That’s what makes this fight an interesting one, it could go either way for different reasons.
Eddie Hearn has repeatedly stated that Brook is not keen on vacating his IBF world title belt unless there’s big fights for him in other weight divisions. Even if, as surprising and unlikely as it may be, Brook does decide to stay in the welterweight division, his mandatory challenger Errol Spence Jr is also an interesting fight that has the potential to heat up. There’s so many options and big fights out there for the Sheffield fighter and I for one cannot wait for his return to the ring and watch how all of this unfolds.