By: Ste Rowen
Will they? Won’t they? Kell Brook vs. Amir Khan. It’s a question that’s been lingering on for so long that maybe the answer these days is, who cares?
But, although the wait for Brook/Khan is more Ricky Hatton vs. Junior Witter than Mayweather/Pacquiao, there are those, not just called Hearn, that want to see the two British fighters get it on.
Unfortunately for them, this weekend at Sheffield Arena ‘Special K’ will not be fighting Amir but instead takes on 25-2 (14KOs) Michael ‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Kell made sure he got in a dig at ‘King Khan’, as well as talk up future bouts,
‘‘Amir Khan is a con man, they should call him Amir ‘Con’. He’s mugged you off Eddie.
Now 37-2 (26KOs), Saturday night is setup as Kell’s Sheffield swansong before aiming for the legacy fights that will abolish the memory of stoppage losses to Errol Spence and Gennady Golovkin.
He may have proved in his stoppage victory over Sergey Rabchenko back in March, that he’s got the ability to matchup with the 154lb fringe contenders but the chasm between the junior middleweight fringe and the junior middleweight champions is huge. From WBA & IBF champion, Jarrett Hurd, to WBC titlist, Jermell Charlo; Kell’s best chance of becoming a two-weight world champion, if that it is his ultimate aim before retiring, will come against WBO belt-holder, 22-year-old Jaime Munguia whose star continues to quickly rise having fought five times in 2018, two of those being world title defences.
Although Saturday night’s fight and his comeback fight in March are at 154lb, Brook told the press that he’s still capable of making welterweight,
‘‘I could weigh in at 147 tomorrow, I’ve got that buzz again…Shaun Porter’s got that WBC title. I would love to bring back Errol Spence in the summer and get the win cos I’m an animal.’’
But before he can think of world titles or domestic super-fights in 2019, ‘Special K’ must display the heavy handedness, and confidence that helped him dispatch with Rabchenko. That night in March, Brook got over his previous two eye injuries sustained against Golovkin and Spence in consecutive bouts. The drop off in quality of his opponent was obvious but Kell countered and put together combinations superbly, bullying the Belarussian for just less than 270 seconds before the referee brought Kell’s successful injury-comeback fight to an end.
‘‘If you roll back twelve months ago, I’d probably give myself twelve months before I hung them up, but I feel reborn. A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter and I am so happy…No disrespect to him (Zerafa) I’ve no interest in what he’s gonna do. I’m 100% and there’s not gonna be no man that can deal with me…I’m looking to put up a serious performance.
‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa of Australia is most likely known for his action-packed but ultimately, knockout loss to Peter Quillin up at middleweight – his one other defeat coming to a rising Arif Magomadov. Currently on an 8-fight win streak, Saturday will be a serious step up in quality for the man who hasn’t won when he’s stepped outside of Australia,
‘‘It’s a huge opportunity for me and the team. We know it’s gonna be a hard fight, but we’ve come prepared…No stone’s been left unturned. He’s just a name, there’s gonna be fireworks.’’
If Zerafa does spring the upset at the weekend, the chances of Brook vs. Khan at [Insert any English soccer stadium] drops even further down to the status of ‘Slim to none’ and Slim probably left town a couple of years ago.
Jono Carroll vs. Guillame Francois
Fighting in what will surely be the bout that solidifies his status as IBF super-bantamweight champion, Tevin Farmer’s mandatory, Jono Carroll of Ireland takes on experienced Frenchman, Guillame Frencois., who’s last defeat came over five years ago.
Last seen picking shots at Declan Geraghty in June, southpaw, Carroll, 16-0 (3KOs) may have what Eddie Hearn called ‘the greatest beard in world boxing’, but the bearded man recognises how close he is to the dream of fighting for world championship belts,
‘‘I wanna show Tevin Farmer, ‘little peanut head’, I’m gonna eat him alive when his time comes…Frenois is a banana skin. If I don’t win on Saturday night, then there is no Tevin Farmer. Trust me I will be performing on Saturday night.’’
That night in Belfast against Geraghty, Jono dominated most of the nine rounds before ultimately forcing the referee into stopping the fight due to the volume with which Carroll was landing, and the ‘Celtic Warrior’ is ready for the same style of fight if needs must on Saturday,
‘‘I don’t work so hard in the gym, blood, sweat and tears to just fight journeymen…This Frenchman is very experienced, and I hope he is ready for a war because us Irish love to go to war and I’m ready for anything.’’
Also a southpaw, Guillame Frencois has fought almost the entirety of his pro career in his home country of France, and usually up against very limited opposition. His record of 46-1 (12KOs) looks impressive but ‘L’Expert’ has rarely fought a recognised name and, in his most significant bout for the EBU European strap, was defeated via unanimous decision to a then, 33-1 Devis Boschiero.
Despite this, Frencois has taken his preparations seriously and is ready just as much as Carroll to make it a battle,
‘‘I’m very pleased to be here in Sheffield, great place for boxing. I was determined to take my chance when the IBF ordered this eliminator and after a two-month camp I’m ready to win…You may know the Irish warrior, but you will know the French warrior on Saturday.’’
Josh Kelly vs. David Avenesyan
Former Olympian, Josh Kelly continues his accelerated rise in the pro ranks with a scheduled 10-round matchup with former WBA ‘regular’ challenger, David Avenesyan.
‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly, 8-0 (6KOs) will be fighting for the fourth time in 2018 and overcame his biggest challenge to date in his first fight of the year when he decisioned the experienced, Carlos Molina on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker. However, the Sunderland native acknowledges that he needs that step up to really prove his talent,
‘‘I need someone to really come and try and take my head off. When I get in the ring people wanna take my head off because I look like this arrogant guy, but I’ve got a switch. I’m not the same guy I am in the ring…Four weeks since the last fight and I’m just feeling relaxed.’’
David Avenesyan, 23-3-1 (11KOs) is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle his British opponent has come up against so far as a pro, but the Russian native has lost two of his last four bouts, fighting just four times in the past 2 ½ years – including a 12-round decision over a faded Shane Mosley.
Avenesyan kept his press conference contribution short and simple,
‘‘This is a big fight for me…I like this fight, I want this fight, I’m hungry. David right now is ready for this fight.’’