Kell Brook has long been spoken of as one of Britain’s top boxing prospects & this weekend will see him step between the ropes in what will be a final eliminator for the IBF World Welterweight title. The unbeaten 26 yr old knows that victory over Hector Saldivia in a bout being called ‘This Is It’ will guarantee not just a shot at the championship but also thrust him into the big fights that he so desperately craves.
As the bell rings on Saturday night however, Brook will know that merely winning will not be enough this time around. In usual circumstances the W in the column is all that counts but this fight doesn’t fall into the ‘usual’ category. Kell is under pressure to perform and put on a scintillating performance & it is a pressure which he is welcoming.
Much of this added pressure comes from the below par performance he put on last time out against American Carson Jones. Heading into the bout the general consensus was that whilst Jones was tough, Brook would have more than enough to handle him & with relative ease. He had the better boxing skills and was better equipped in just about every area.
For the first 6 Rounds Brook was showing everyone just why he was nicknamed ‘Special K’. His footwork and hand speed allowed him to keep Jones at bay, negating his inside game and power. Yet things begin to take a turn for the worse as the fight wore on. Brook tired & Jones began to get to him. There were plenty of uncomfortable moments for both Brook and his fans as Jones began to tag him more often and close him down with ease. By the end of the 12 Rounder, Brook was the one looking bloodied and bruised, with a broken nose to show for his troubles. His work over the first 6 was enough to take the victory on a majority decision verdict…but immediately calls came that perhaps Brook was not yet ready for the very best the division had to offer.
Boxing is funny like that, in the space of 36 minutes you can go from being called a ‘top prospect’ to suddenly becoming someone who has been overhyped. Whilst often unfair it is simply part & parcel of being a boxer…the only thing that one can do is dust themselves off and go again.
For Brook that meant admitting to a case of complacency on his behalf. In the aftermath of that bout he admitted that he had perhaps taken his eye of the ball,
‘I hadn’t had a good training camp and was struggling with my weight before the Jones fight so I tired towards the end,’
The result was a complete gut check on fight night. Whilst struggling against an opponent you are expected to beat with ease is never a good thing, it did allow Brook to show that he can tough it out. His skills have never been questioned but his heart & grit had. In July he at least laid any doubts over those to rest.
This time around he has left no stone unturned in his quest to unsure he is fully prepared and at his very best come fight night. After sitting down with his trainer (Ingle) and promoter, changes were made to the team. A nutritionist was brought in as was strength & conditioning.
Will it make a difference, well come Saturday night we will find out. The man himself however is confident that the changes made will amount to us seeing a new Kell Brook.
“I’m eating well, drinking plenty and I have never been better. I am taking plenty of recovery time and I have had a brilliant 12-week training camp. I am pushing myself more than ever before.
I have left no stone unturned and this Saturday you’re going to see the best of Kell Brook – one that’s good enough to take care of Hector Saldivia.”
In fact so confident is he that he has spoken of retiring if he fails to get past his unknown Argentine opponent.
“People keep saying I have talent so if I can’t get rid of guys like Saldivia I don’t deserve to be at this level.
“That is why I’m saying I will pack up if I don’t beat him on Saturday night.”
It is a worthwhile and honest assessment of where he stands at this moment in his career. Whilst talk of retirement at such a young age for some may seem a tad on the silly side, Brook knows that there is only one level he wants to be fighting at & that is at the very top.
It has been over a year since he first signed with Eddie Hearn under the Matchroom banner following his split with Frank Warren. Upon signing Hearn spoke of his belief that Brook was capable of becoming a superstar. They laid out a plan to make a charge for the title and now just one fight away they both know that everything has to go right this weekend.
Superfights with Amir Khan & Ricky Hatton could be just around the corner. The bright lights of Vegas for fights with the likes of Bradley, Malignaggi, Alexander or Bailey are within touching distance…but only if he shows that he belongs at that level this weekend.
A performance is needed, one which will dazzle the American TV Companies and prove to everyone that Brook is a World Class operator and not just another prospect who is all style & no substance.
Mega-Fights & Fortune all lie ahead….but the time for talking is over…now is the time for Brook to show everyone just how good he is.
Prediction – Brook via Stoppage 5th/6th Round
Little is known of Brook’s opponent this weekend other than he is Argentinean and his record suggests he can bang. He has been beaten twice before and on both occasions he was stopped. Brook showed last time out that he has a chin, can dig deep and has heart when required…I don’t expect him to have to show any of those qualities this time around. He is fired up and looks in tremendous shape. The only niggling doubt will be whether he puts too much pressure on himself to put on a show.
I think he will go out and put on a performance. He spoke after the Hatton fight of needing to fight with a bit more venom and aggression and this is the perfect opportunity to do that & show that he has the killer instinct needed to make it to the top. The Welterweight division is full of huge names and Brook knows that to get a look in he is going to have to step it up and make people take notice.
Expect a polished performance much like the first half of the Jones fight, though this time there should be no reason for a drop off in the pace. In fact I’m not so sure it will get into the 2nd half of the fight if Brook can sit down on his punches a little. If he does so then I expect the referee to call a stop to the contest somewhere around the 5th/6th Round.