By Frank Warren
Tonight Sheffield’s Kell Brook finally gets his chance to replicate British welterweight greats John H Stracey and Lloyd Honeyghan by capturing a world title on foreign climes.
The 28 year old who styles himself as ‘The Special One’ makes a mandatory challenge to Ohio’s IBF champion ‘Showtime Shawn’ Porter at The Stubhub Center, Carson, California. Sky Sports televise live from 2am.
Will Brook become the latest of Eddie Hearn’s expendables – joining Gavin Rees, Lee Purdy, Darren Barker, Tony Bellew and Brian Rose – who were sent overseas for a payday and none lasted beyond seven rounds or can Kell bring home the bacon?
Brook, unbeaten in 32 with 22 stoppage wins, certainly has a chance (2-1 against with the bookies).
He is a product of the Ingle family’s hugely successful Wincobank gym; a conveyor belt which previously spawned Bomber Graham, Naseem Hamed, Ryan Rhodes, Johnny Nelson and Junior Witter and is not averse to a spot of giant-killing.
I managed and promoted Kell to the Lonsdale Belt outright during his first six years in the profession and, at his best, he is a sharp, accurate technician with a good dig.
He was already mandatory contender with the WBO when we parted in April 2011 but, despite remaining unbeaten in nine, he has had to tread water waiting for a crack at the Holy Grail for well over three years.
On three prior occasions, scheduled challenges to Porter’s predecessor Devon Alexander fell out of bed. In the interim, it’s conceivable that not only might Brook’s motivation have waned, but I feel he outgrew the division a few years ago. Ominously, several recent matches have been made significantly above the 147lb welter cut-off.
And Brook’s prospects would certainly be brighter if he wasn’t travelling 5,500 miles across the globe to make his challenge. In his solitary venture outside the UK, he gave a laboured performance when stopping Luis Galarza in Atlantic City in late 2011.
To their credit, Team Brook has spent the past three weeks over in the US acclimatising. Will that sufficiently compensate?
Champion Porter is not yet at the calibre of Jose Napoles or Don Curry – the legends that Stracey and Honeyghan dethroned in Mexico City and Atlantic City respectively – but he’s a top grade operator.
Following a hugely decorated 290 bout amateur career (just 14 losses), the muscular 26 year old powerhouse has romped to 25 fights unbeaten as a pro and has scalped three world champions in his last three outings.
Quick, strong and aggressive, he outhustled Alexander to capture the title last December and was frighteningly impressive whilst wiping out Paulie Malignaggi within four rounds in his only defence.
A former sparhand to Manny Pacquiao and managed by Al Haymon, Porter will be difficult to dislodge in his native US.
He is undeniably a better infighter than Brook and, I suspect, more rugged and durable. Reluctantly, I tip him to retain, probably on points, possibly controversially.
Former manager-promoter Frank Maloney’s decision to reveal that they now intend to live as a transsexual has caused quite a stir within the industry.
The twice-married father of three - who helped steer Lennox Lewis to the undisputed world heavyweight title during their 12 year association intends undergoing a sex change and now wishes to be known as ‘Kellie’.
Forgive the pun but it took a huge set of balls to go public on such a private matter in such a testosterone fuelled environment, especially given that ‘Frank’ had formally retired from the sport and withdrawn from the public glare. She has endured heart attacks and, she claims, contemplated suicide.
However, ‘flamboyant Frank’ has always been an incorrigible self-publicist, prone to strutting in Union Jack suits and kilts. Now she declares she wants to sit on the British Boxing Board of Control.
Millwall fan Kellie has apparently employed an agent to handle the current clamour for her attention and declares she’ll be bringing out a book post-transition, to highlight the plight and aid others.
The former amateur flyweight implores that the public be ‘open’ about her situation but is possibly suffering amnesia. The boxing world displayed more tolerance to the situation than when he was a UKIP candidate during the 2010 Mayor of London campaign, ‘enlightened’ Kellie advocated banning ‘Pride’ marches, and declined canvassing in the Borough of Camden as there were ‘too many gays’ who ‘don’t do a lot for society’ and ‘openly flaunt their sexuality.’ Big Brother next?
For the record, she is not the only Brit to manage or guide a world heavyweight champion. I turned that trick with both Frank Bruno (WBC) and Herbie Hide (WBO).
I was both delighted and relieved to formally announce the re-scheduling of the Fury-Chisora showdown last weekend.
In the week preceding their 26th July date, ‘Del Boy’ had to pull out after fracturing his right hand in his final spar while Tyson was subsequently incapacitated due to his Uncle Hughie’s critical illness and his wife miscarrying.
The heavyweight juggernauts will now reconvene at the ExCel Arena in the London Docklands on Saturday 22nd November. The atmosphere there was white hot when the venue hosted the boxing at the 2012 London Olympics so expect it to ignite again when
Tyson and Del lock horns. With three full months to whip themselves back into pristine fighting fettle, there is no scope for excuses from either party.
The delay – though unfortunate and unavoidable – gives even greater time for their rivalry to simmer and build now that it has been switched from Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena. I always thought the capital was a better fit for this fight. Initially, I’d intended to stage the showdown outdoors at West Ham FC’s Boleyn Ground.
Not only am I anticipating an unmissable ‘event’ but also an epic scrap. Both are on the rise and close to their primes, and their mutual antipathy adds a healthy competitive edge. Expect the outcome to be determined by who shows the greater will – rather than greater skill – on what promises to be a memorable night for British boxing.
New Yorker Daniel Jacobs is a talented fighter with a remarkable background tale.
A former Junior Olympic gold medallist and multiple US amateur titlist, the 27 year old Brooklynite was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (cancer of the spine) in May 2010 and warned by medics that he’d never fight again.
Last Saturday, against all odds, ‘The Miracle Man’ captured the vacant WBA title by steamrolling former Billy Joe Saunders victim Jarrod Fletcher – dropping the Aussie in rounds one and five – before an ecstatic crowd of 7,000 at the Barclay’s Center in his home borough.
Undefeated European champion Saunders completed his job on Fletcher three rounds quicker and could cross paths with Jacobs in a Transatlantic blockbuster down the line.
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Tomorrow, The Channel of Champions showcases arguably the best cruiserweight on the planet when Cuban exile Yoan Pablo Hernandez makes a fourth defence of his IBF strap against seasoned Turkish nugget Firat Arslan.
Both are now based in Germany and the fight takes place in Erfurt with live TV coverage commencing at 7pm. Legendary German coaches Ulli Wegner (Hernandez) and Fritz Sdunek (Arslan) go head-to-head to add further spice.
The 29 year old champion, a slick yet spiteful southpaw who’s won his last 14, is top quality but has a fragile air; susceptible to both cuts and visits to the canvas.
Challenger Arslan, a former WBA beltholder buoyed by the possibility of becoming the division’s oldest ever champion at almost 44, is seemingly cast of granite and promising to deliver the best performance of his 43 fight, 17 year pro career.
It should be fast and furious but I expect Hernandez’s significant advantages in height, youth and speed will enable him to retain his belt, most likely by decision after 12 lively rounds.
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