By Terence Dooley
Kell Brook’s father and representative, Terry Thompson, has come out fighting in light of claims made by Brook’s former promoter Frank Warren. Warren told me that Special K’s move to Matchroom came after Frank Warren Promotions had decided not to work with the Sheffield contender anymore.
Terry, though, insists that Brook’s contract was ended due to a clause specifying that Kell was to be moved into a WBO world title fight by the 31st of December of last year. An interim title fight with America’s Mike Jones was mooted for December 11th’s ‘Return Of The Magnificent Seven’ bill only for M.J.’s handlers to decide he should fight Soto Karass on November 13.
A WBO Inter-Continental’ defence against Micheal Clark was explored for December only for Clark to withdraw, it was stated he had visa problems, which forced Warren to bring in Philip Kotey on three days notice for the December 11th date.
“Frank did pay Kell the same money for Kotey as he’d offered for Clark – this is true. But Philip Kotey wasn’t good enough at that point in Kell’s career,” said Terry when phoning through to discuss Warren’s claims.
“Frank had an agreement for Jones to fight Brook for the interim title but it didn’t happen. We were number one at that point. Frank did get him into that position but we were stuck on a one-way road. Me and Kell had no other options, it was a case of defending this WBO Inter-Continental title until Pacquiao vacated, and it didn’t look like Manny was vacating.
“We needed Manny to give up that belt or fight Kell. It weren’t to be and we could see Kell on the undercards of James DeGale fights, PPV shows, not getting the promotion and fighting substandard fighters for that Inter-Continental belt. Kell could have gone from 25 to 27-years-old without fighting any of the top ten or fifteen ranked fighters, as I believe it is cheaper not too. Kell wanted to fight the best. He’s trained with champions since he was nine years old and he doesn’t want to be on a PPV undercard on someone else’s bill.
“Kell was due to come on at 6pm against Kotey that night and not have his fight televised live, he was only pushed up the running order when the [Derek] Chisora fight [a proposed tilt at Wladimir Klitschko] was pulled. He got the first spot on TV because of that. Kell felt he wasn’t really going anywhere fighting that type of opponent, which we believed would be par for the course for the foreseeable future. Just waiting for dead men’s shoes and fighting poorly rated opponents.
“We’d been promised the WBO world title by December of last year, obviously, so in fairness to Frank and the circumstances we offered to extend the time limit until March for him to produce a world title fight, but he didn’t accept the offer and the WBO world title fight just wasn’t there.
“We could have sat down for two years waiting for Manny to vacate but what was the point of that? You can say it’s only a few years but Kell’s had six years with Frank. Yeah, we have had arguments but that is because Kell only wants to fight the best and asks me to get him the best.”
With no WBO fight on the table, Brook was free to seek pastures new as 2011 dawned yet the 24-year-old fighter also had the option of giving Warren a period of time within which to renegotiate a deal then sign, seal and deliver the WBO, or any welterweight, world title or a contract guaranteeing the fighter top ten rated opponents over the course of his new deal.
Warren responded by offering Brook fights Cornelius Bundrage and Miguel Cotto up at 154lb. Kell refused these fights, assuming that they could be made and not just promised, as the WBO title was, because they were at light middleweight. Kell therefore opted to sign for Matchroom on 7th April of 2011.
“Frank says he had big fights lined up for Kell but also that he didn’t want to promote him anymore so why does he say he had offered him fights there in black and white in your recent article?” asked Terry.
Adding, “Frank contradicts himself by saying he didn’t want to work with Kell anymore but he was offering him title fights to keep him. That doesn’t sound like a man who didn’t want to promote Kell anymore. Warren also goes onto quote that he would have delivered a big fight had he stayed put.
“We’ll deal with Mike Jones. We were offered the fight with him once he’d fought Karras for the first time. They fought on 13th November 2010, and then he was to fight Kell next according to Bob Arum’s word. Jones looked shite against Karras so Arum put him in against Karass again on 19th February 2011 for a second time. So that fight was not there for Kell in early 2011, simple as. Frank had promised it but couldn’t deliver, yet again.
“We were offered Bundrage and Cotto in writing but in my eyes that was Frank’s word, it wasn’t a written offer from Cotto or Bundrage’s side of things as far as we were concerned. It meant getting us onto another contract by offering us a shot at the light-middleweight title. Kell isn’t a light-middleweight, not yet at any rate, he’s a welterweight and wants to campaign for titles there at the minute.”
Brook and his father talked to Frank at John Murray’s York Hall showcase on 2nd April 2011. By this point the boxer had started to discuss his future with other parties. Frank Warren Promotions did not take up an offer of a three-month extension with which to deliver a welterweight crown and Kell confirmed that his contract was up in the air when speaking on the Main Event Radio show on Monday the fourth of April. Terry fleshed out the details.
“We signed up with Matchroom Sport on the Wednesday [6th April], on the Saturday previous we’d sat ringside with Warren at York Hall and had a meeting with Frank that night and told him we had spoken to other promoters, including Eddie Hearn, and I quite honestly liked the way Eddie talked,” he admitted.
“On 6th April I phoned Frank as a courtesy to tell him we were going with Matchroom. Eddie then put a press release out in the media confirming this and that Kell would be defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt.
“The following week we hear about this WBO 120 day rule on the Internet [stating that a champion had to defend his belt within 120 days of his last defence], a rule which Kell didn’t even know about because promoters deal with the governing bodies and not fighters or managers, so Kell gets stripped.
“Under their own Regulations the WBO are supposed to notify the ‘boxer’ of their intention to strip him of the title if he doesn’t defend it, this they must do under their own regulations 30 days before they strip him. The WBO were in breach of their regulations by not communicating with Kell.
“They apparently communicated with Frank Warren Promotions in March but no one from FWP informed Kell and in any event, at that time Frank Warren Promotions had nothing to do with Kell nor were they under any obligation to act as the WBO’s messenger. The WBO’s own regulations state that it is the ‘boxer’ with whom they are supposed to communicate, not a third party who may or may not be involved with the boxer and may or may not inform the boxer of the situation.”
Terry was disappointed to have lost the WBO strap but is happy to have moved Kell to Matchroom. Telling me that the decision to defect was not a result of a lack of interest from FWP.
“It was me who phoned Frank up to tell him we weren’t renewing,” he reiterated. “I always run everything by Kell. I explain everything to him and the final decision is Kell’s decision and not mine. Boxers are boxers, they’re not legal men or businessmen so Kell needed a good lawyer behind him, which we have, and someone to represent him.
“I agree to a certain extent with Frank saying he couldn’t deal with me because I’ve always said we wouldn’t let anyone nail Kell’s balls to the table. I’ve had an impact on his career purely for the fact that I’ve watched Kell’s contracts to make sure that they’re the best for him.”
Warren argued that Brook’s out of the ring troubles had contributed to fights falling through, stating that weight problems and a court ordered tag had also impacted on the ability of the promoter to put his charge into the limelight. Frank cited a court case, a car crash and 2007’s stabbing as signs that Kell’s personal life impacted on his career – assertions that are rejected by his father.
He said, “Kell was in a car crash but he was the passenger so it wasn’t his crash. It didn’t stop him fighting at all.” As for the weight problems, “When we first went with Warren there’d been a massive article in the Boxing News with the heading, ‘Better Than Amir Khan’, and within a week Frank expressed an interest in signing Kell,” he recalled.
“We sat down, I asked if they would be signing Kell up to push him forwards or just to silence him from talking about Khan. Frank pointed out the routes they could go. I accepted what we had to say and we thought we’d be fighting six or eight times a year.
“Kell was a bit overweight for the first one, as it was some five weeks later, so we agreed a catch weight. For another one, Kell didn’t make his weight in the way Dave Coldwell wanted him to make it so Frank pulled him out of a show. There is truth in that. But Kell could have still fought and beat whoever they put in front of him doing it the way he had before when he was with the ingles for ten years.”
Kell, though, was in the wrong place at the wrong time in Barnsley in May of last year, he was accused of punching a nightclub bar manager and went to court on a common assault charge, deciding to represent himself rather than involving his father, lawyer or promoter in a bid to keep things quiet. The plan went awry; with Terry convinced that Brook’s pride had contributed to a storm in a teacup charge.
“It was nothing like that,” he said to claims that the incident was a serious one. “It was more like a shove away. Kell thought the kid was just kidding and that it was nothing. He went to court alone thinking it would be laughed off, went in without any legal representation or professional people and come out with this lad saying he’d punched him even though there were no marks on the lad.
“We found out, got Kell representation, we got him back into court and it was overturned. That didn’t stop Kell from fighting. In actual fact, Kell already had a date to fight Jennings and was in court two or three weeks after that. He was tagged but the tag came off eight days before he fought Jennings. It didn’t interfere with him fighting, it interfered with him going ringside for other shows for a few months but Kell was with Frank for six years previous where he could have been sat at ringside and put out there.
“All the things said in your article relate to the last year with the exception of the weight issues in the first six months, he was with Frank since he was a 19-year-old kid. There was one incident where Kell got a suspected broken rib and went to see Frank’s Harley Street surgeon who said it was either a broken rib or a damaged tissue.
“So that did take Kell out of one fight with Jennings, which was the only time he failed to fight in that year due to injury. It is true that Kell had to pull out of an earlier fight with Jennings the previous year because of a chest injury. But the tag or anything else didn’t cost Kell a fight.”
Warren revealed that he had sent through a letter to the judge ahead of Brook’s sentencing, this letter taken into consideration. However, and based upon expert legal advice, Terry and Brook were confident that the charge did not necessitate a custodial sentence.
Saying, “Bearing in mind the police offered him a caution on the night but Kell wouldn’t accept it because he hadn’t done anything wrong. The idea of the judge offering him a custodial sentence based on his first offence and the other lad not having a mark on him was ludicrous. It would be a community order because it was actually common assault that Kell got charged with. There was no way the judge was going to pass a custodial sentence for a first offence of this nature.
“Kell was represented at the adjourned hearing for sentencing and the magistrate was informed that Kell was fighting on the 18th September 2010 so he let the tag expire at 6am every morning so Kell could run and train and ordered that the tag be removed 8 days before he fought against Michael Jennings. It wasn’t going to affect the fight.
“I can’t remember if the stabbing took him out for one fight but bearing in mind we only got 2-3 fights per year for the early years even though Kell was seen as a big signing at the time. He was twice British ABA champion, twice British boys club champion and took a gold medal at the Four Nations for England as an amateur, winning with ease. Kell was someone who could have become very special much sooner but he’s stagnated to a certain extent.”
Warren insists that the 154lb shots against either Bundrage or Cotto were concrete offers that should have been taken up by Brook, with his former promoter remarking that Brook is struggling at the weight. Again, Terry refutes the idea that Kell is stripping himself down to make 147lb.
“Frank did tell us he could get Cotto or Bundrage, and put it in a letter, but Kell is a welterweight. Kell isn’t struggling, he’s not far off his weight now for the [Lovemore] N’dou fight [on June 25th], if he does step up in a few years it will be down to choice,” he argued.
“Look what happened to Ryan Rhodes when he stepped up for a world title fight at middle, he got beat. N’dou doesn’t sound as good a name as Cotto, I agree, but he is at the weight and ranked. Kell is now ranked 6 by the WBA. His fight with N’dou will be for the WBA international title. Nobody has stopped N’dou and he could be the first lad to take Kell twelve rounds. I think Kell will be the first person to stop him. But if not it won’t be for not going for it.”
Terry also argued that his son would benefit from a return to Sheffield. “It is a good enough fight after six months out with contractual issues,” says Terry. “The venue holds 1500 and this is the first time we’ve been back in Sheffield since May 2005. Kell’s fought hundreds of miles away from home so we don’t know what the response will be now he’s back in Sheffield. Hopefully it is a good one.”
Terry was also keen to dispute the claim that he had told Warren that “Kell would fight Pacquiao for twenty quid”, insisting that he had said this when angling for a fight with Amir Khan, and he stands by the claim.
“That was related to Amir Khan,” he stated. “I told Frank that Kell would fight Amir for twenty quid because he’d beat Amir. It makes no sense that I’d even suggest putting him in with Manny for twenty quid because I see that as a fifty-fifty fight. That might sound stupid but I wouldn’t put it down as a walkover for Manny because Kell is quick enough, powerful enough and has got excellent timing to hit him and hurt him. It is not beyond Kell to beat Manny.
“It was true of Amir Khan because Kell would knock him out and then the big money would have come. Kell would love to fight Amir, he’d jump at that chance tomorrow but I don’t think Amir would take it, well I know he won’t. Amir’s team have been warned not to go anywhere near Kell. There’s no way they’d risk Amir because it is the most dangerous fight he could take in Britain.
“Kell wants to fight them all. He’d get in the ring with anybody – he’d never back down. I do believe he’d fight Manny if he were offered to him on the right terms. Kell was eager to fight Jones but it was never produced probably because Jones was tied up.
“It was never about money. Whatever Frank offered for a fight was fine by me and Kell. We wanted the quality fights because we knew the money would come eventually. I was the easiest going guy to deal with. But for whatever reason we didn’t get the quality fighters in the ring.
“Yeah I agree, Frank would have got us the world title shot one day but I go down my street and people don’t know who Kell is because he’s on those PPV shows. He hasn’t got the profile he wanted. Kell will now be on his own show on Sky Sports going out to the mainstream sports public. It is all about building Kell’s profile in England.”
Brook’s future lies up in weight but any move to 154lb or beyond will be made through choice, rather than due to the rigors of weight making. “Kell wants to be a belt collector,” he revealed.
“His goal is to collect titles at this weight before stepping up. Kell’s got another seven years in boxing at least so who knows, he wants to be out 4 or 5 times a year at the moment and now has the showcase to do things – time will tell on the weight.
“If he is getting a challenge you will see him not waver in his dedication. When he’s fighting idiots he does get a bit complacent. He needs the fighters to challenge him but those fighters haven’t been there, he could have beat the fighters he has fought recently when he was nineteen.”
So one presumes that it will be a case of nights in on the settee watching Corrie and Eastenders with his parents until Ezekiel gets that world title shot. “Kell does that every night”, reveals Terry, “he also goes to church on a Sunday, a Christian church. We’re very excited about the next two years. It is a new lease of life in the house instead of doom and gloom.
“We will always be grateful to Frank for all that he did for Kell but Kell and I disagree with Frank’s post fight comments on TV after the ‘Magnificent 7’ show that there was no rush and that he wanted Kell to take his time. This is the only point of difference between Frank and Kell. Frank wants to mark time and wait for an easy route to a world title and Kell, like Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, but Kell is a born warrior and doesn’t want to wait for goodness knows how long, fighting bums until someone relinquishes a title.
“We want it to end amicably. I’m not trying to interfere with Kell’s career. I am only trying to get for Kell what Kell wants not what I want and that is progress. I just want to look out for him and do what is best for him, and on balance this move is best for him, best for Frank and probably best for all concerned.
“It was the best thing to do. Get away from the arguments and the old man probably has been detrimental because he wants the best for his son so it’s best to move on. A new Kell has appeared. Frank did get him to number one, credit for that, but when the WBO title’s tied up and that’s the only route that a promoter wants to go, that doesn’t help a bit,” he concluded.
Link to our exclusive Frank Warren interview: http://www.boxingscene.com/warren-fires-hearn-on-kell-brook-talks-murray-mitchell--39119
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