By Terence Dooley
Kell Brook has done everything asked of him en route to world title contention, the 26-year-old has cleaned up the domestic welterweight division, his decision win over Matthew Hatton in March was his last bit of British business, and he showed guts and determination when out-pointing America’s Carson Jones in an IBF title eliminator in July. Brook, though, needed a punctuation, highlight reel KO win to really underline his credentials and he produced one at Sheffield’s Motopoint Arena on Saturday night when stopping Argentina’s Hector David Saldivia courtesy of a stiff jab.
Now the IBF’s mandatory contender, and next in line for Devon Alexander, who won the IBf belt by beating Randall Bailey in a snoozer on Saturday night, Sheffield’s finest should be contesting world honours in his next outing. Eddie Hearn promoted Saturday’s show; Matchroom’s managing director believes that his man learned a valuable lesson when struggling in the later rounds against Jones. Brook now has a nutritionist in his team and he looked in great shape when hitting the scales ahead of the Saldivia test.
“I would have liked to see it go a bit longer just to show everything he’s been doing, but you don’t get paid for overtime and it was a devastating performance,” said Hearn when speaking to BoxingScene. “I think the (right) uppercut in the first round (that put Saldivia down) did the most damage — he felt the power with that. The finishing punch itself was a short jab, but it had the impact of a hook and that was it, game over.
“I think Kell would have got it (the KO) anyway as the fight went on, and I had told him to use the uppercut. You could see how strong Kell was compared to the Carson Jones fight because even though he dominated the early rounds in that one you could see that he was getting pushed back and manhandled by Jones, so he showed his strength early and even got a little warning from the ref for it.
“I sat down with him and (Brook’s dad) Terry (after the win over Jones) and I wouldn’t say I read him the riot act because we don’t have that type of relationship, but I asked him if he wanted it (the world title) because everyone was working really hard towards achieving it and I wanted to know if he felt the same. The answer from him was: “I want it bad”, so we said we’d put the right team together so there’d be no excuses, and then it was up to him.
“It doesn’t matter what team you put in place, he has to knuckle down and give it 100%, and he’s done that. I think he’s embraced the science and it is because how good he’s felt on the back of it. Moving forward, it is a case of he will live the life out of camp and won’t go back to the way it was before.”
So no more curries and late nights for Brook, then? “I don’t think so,” said Hearn. “Maybe this week because you’ve got to have a little rest. People don’t realize how hard it is. They see it was only three rounds (on Saturday), but don’t see what they go through in the training camp over 12-weeks, smashing themselves to bits every day. Kell is bang on.”
“Special K” is a quiet, reserved character when in front of the TV cameras. Now his profile is on the rise and he will have to rustle up some sound bites in order to crossover to casual boxing fans, who usually jump on a bandwagon once a fighter has a world title and expect a few sizzling quotes or a clearly defined persona before pledging allegiance to a boxer. Hearn plans on providing Brook with a bit of media training to add to the nutritional work and the vital boxing expertise of Dominic Ingle, Brook’s trainer.
“You’ve known him for a long time and can see that Kell is getting better and better in front of the camera,” said Hearn. “Kell has confidence oozing out of him now, and I think that comes across in the interviews, but everyone needs media training, it doesn’t matter who you are, and with Kell it will make him more comfortable. I think it is about getting used to things. Kell is getting used to being in front of the camera now.”
Part of the problem lies with us, we grind guys like Brook down with an endless round of banal training questions and an obsession with getting him to discuss Amir Khan. We need Brook to slam Khan so we can serve up ‘Brook bashes Khan’ headlines and get ourselves extra hits. However, when Brook mentions the Bolton boxer, it leads to accusations that he is obsessed with his compatriot. It is a double-edged sword.
“You know this, people say they wish he would stop talking about Khan, but that’s all they ask,” stated Hearn — I hadn’t even mentioned Khan, but was about to. “Kell never starts an interview by getting asked, ‘How are you today’, and saying, ‘I want to fight Amir Khan’. Even at the (post-fight) presser, it was 90% Amir Khan questions, so he can only answer them.
“That’s what people want to hear and read, and what people want to put in the titles of their stories. If you look at the papers today it is all Khan-Brook, not Brook-Alexander. We know the fight people want to see. If you asked the British public if they want Brook-Khan or Brook-Alexander then they’re going to say Khan.”
Still, it would be good if there was a world title on the line should the two meet in a Lancashire-Yorkshire “War Of The Roses” showdown. “Course (we want it), but if that fight comes up it will be very difficult to turn down because there’s so much money to be made and it’s a great fight, but you’re right, it would be nice to have it with a world title involved,” answered Hearn.
“You just don’t know what is going to happen in the future, what if Kell fights for a world title in March and Amir fights and gets knocked out in two-rounds, he can’t fight Kell then because it won’t be a bigger fight. Sometimes you just have to grab it when the time’s right.”
Speaking of the world titles, Bill Cayton, the late, great co-manager of Mike Tyson when “Iron Mike” was on the rise, once said that anyone can get themselves a world title shot as long as they are prepared to pay handsomely for it. The real trick, according to Cayton, is getting a world title shot to pay out for you. Therein lies the rub as many British fighters get themselves a high ranking only for the alphabet boys to shunt them down the list to accommodate a “name” fighter.
Hearn, however, believes that the IBF will do right by Brook, especially as the organization sent a message to Alexander reminding him of his obligation to defend against his number one contender. “I don’t think they can,” said Hearn when asked if the IBF will order a final, final eliminator.
“I’ve just received an email from Lindsey Tucker (of the IBF) that was sent to Devon Alexander and reads: ‘The (Bailey) fight was approved under the condition that the winner fights the IBF mandatory contender, which is Kell Brook of Matchroom, and negotiations must begin immediately and be concluded by November 22. In the event you are unable to reach an agreement it will go to purse bids’. The IBF are bang on and fair, and will ensure that we will get our shot. We’re confident in them.
“We will make them an offer to come to England. They will make us an offer to go to America. If we can’t find any middle ground then it will go to purse bids, but I think he may vacate because Kell isn’t as big a name in America as perhaps they would need to make a huge fight. Alexander could fight (Tim) Bradley for perhaps twice as much as he’d get for a Kell Brook fight.
“If it was me promoting him I’d think: ‘Blimey, that’s a tough fight when I could have a superstar fight against Manny Pacquiao, (Juan Manuel) Marquez, Bradley, anyone,’ so we’ll see what happens. I’ve already reached out to Golden Boy to tell them I’m happy to work with them on this and get the ball rolling.”
“Looking down the list, if Alexander vacates Kell will face the first available contender, which is (IBF number 5) Jan Zaveck, the former champion, and I’d have no problem getting Zaveck over for that fight. We’ll have a go at getting Alexander, but if the terms don’t happen then we’ll try for that one. If it does go down the list then we have a tremendous chance of making it happen in England.”
“Doctor” Brook — AKA the man who can take you out with a single jab — is currently on holiday. Then it is straight back on the grind, and back on his diet, as he fine-tunes everything in preparation for his date with destiny. Now all he needs is someone to focus on, and for us guys to stop pestering him about Amir Khan, at least until the former WBA and IBF light-welterweight titlist has stepped up to welterweight.
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.