By: Hans Themistode
WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders is in the minority. The overwhelming thought process surrounding WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford and his showdown against former belt holder Kell Brook tomorrow night, is that it will be an easy night at the office for the undefeated champion.
Brook, 34, hasn’t boxed at the 147 pound welterweight limit since a 2017 loss at the hands of Errol Spence Jr. which resulted in the end of his title reign. Despite years of fighting one weight class higher, Brook decided that an opportunity to face Crawford was simply too good to pass up on and elected to move back down.
Oddsmakers are under the belief that the move for Brook won’t pay dividends as he’s been penciled as roughly a 20-1 underdog. Regardless of those odds, Saunders is standing right behind his countrymen.
“I believe if his mind is right then I’m backing him,” said Saunders to IFL TV during a recent interview. “He’s in the best shape of his life.”
Before Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) suffered back to back broken orbital bones which resulted in back-to-back defeats, the British product was viewed as one of the best welterweights in the world. In August of 2014, Brook made the long trek to make his American debut. On the night, the now 34-year-old handed former two time champion Shawn Porter the first loss of his career.
Saunders belief in Brook doesn’t stem from simply their friendship. Despite being separated by three weight classes, Saunders has spent time in the ring with the former titlist to help his preparation. Although he refrained from giving the exact details of their sparring sessions, Saunders was left impressed with everything that Brook did in the ring. Including carrying enough power to make the much bigger Saunders take notice.
“I think Terence Crawford is pound for pound number one but I’ve sparred Kell. Kell is a very, very good puncher. You don’t see him coming and I just think that if Kell Brook shows up the best that he can turn up then we got a new world champion.”