By Alexey Sukachev
Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, Yorkshire - In a final IBF welterweight eliminator, Kell Brook (29-0, 19KOs) went right through Hector Saldivia (41-3, 32KOs) in three rounds. Brook was measuring Saldivia with his jab and dropped him with a big uppercut in the first round. At the start of the third, he caught Saldivia cold with an accurate, straight left hand bomb to drop Saldivia on his back. Saldivia barely made it up and was wobbling bad as the referee waved off the contest. A few replaces showed the KO punch was a hard, straight jab that caught Saldivia right on the button. The time of the stoppage was 0:28 of the third.
At 26, after 13 straight wins over solid (domestic, continental, and then international) opponents, starting from Barrie Jones four and a half years ago, and after succeeding in two WBO and two IBF welterweight eliminators, Brook finally looks ready for a title shot against any of welterweight champions.
"El Tigre" Saldivia, 28, who won his last eight since being destroyed by Said Ouali in a fistic fiesta two years ago, was ranked #3 coming in, while Brook was rated #2 by the same sanctioning body. He could also be found at #4 in the WBA ratings and #5 in the WBO ranks. The difference between two highly ranked boxers was striking, however.
Saldivia immediately turned aggressive only to be stopped in his tracks by Brook's movements and his sophisticated jab. Brook started to deliver lightning-fast counters immediately after Saldivia's first attack. The Argentinean was too flat-footed and two slow to avoid Brook's combinations. One of them, a right uppercut followed by a (missed) left hook, put him down in the last minute of the first. Brook didn't step up the gas pedal and allowed his opponent to survive, for now.
In the second, Brook was easily outboxing the Latino fighter before taking the last minute off. Saldivia capitalized by going forward and landing several hard punches of his own but they were partially blocked by Brook's tight guard, and the Brit was never in any danger. Early into the third, Saldivia went in but was met with a very hard left jab.
He went down, rose on unsteady legs but stumbled to the corner and was waved off by referee Howard John Foster at 0:28 of the round. A blistering performance by the British fighter, who eliminated a large number of sceptics, having appeared after he had struggled mightily against Carson Jones in his most recent fight.