Sheffield’s Kell Brook is not one who looks for the easiest route of resistance.
Having won his IBF world welterweight title in the USA against Shawn Porter, Brook would later suffer back to back defeats up at middleweight to Gennady Golovkin before losing his crown to unbeaten mandatory Errol Spence.
Now, as if fighting two of the top 10 pound-for-pounders wasn’t enough, he’s signed to meet a third in Terence Crawford on November 14.
Some have dubbed it ‘Mission Impossible 3’, which is fuel to the 34-year-old’s fire.
“That’s the kind of thing I love because the haters are motivators and it’s what people perceive,” Brook said. “But the people who’ve been around me know how I’ve been, they know how determined I am and how motivated I am for this fight. I’ve left no stone unturned.”
He’s spent weeks in Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, preparing under trainer Carlos Formento and he understands he’s not the pre-fight favourite.
“Crawford is very good, that’s why he’s arguably top three pound-for-pound – so he’s obviously good, isn’t he?”
“Some people have him at number one. But look what [Teofimo] Lopez, who’s 23 [years-old] did to [Vasilliy] Lomachenko at the weekend. This is boxing we’re involved in.”
He’s also unfazed by Crawford’s propensity of switch-hitting because that’s something everyone in Brook’s former Sheffield gym in Wincobank is coached to be able to do and handle from a young age.
“From the old man, Brendan Ingle, the school of boxing, that style has been there from the Naz [Naseem Hamed] days [which] is switch-hitting and I’ve seen every style there is to see so I’m not going to be bamboozled by him.”
Brook has returned to England to finalise his Visa requirements and he’s picked up work while he’s been back, including sparring with Conor Benn.
And although he’s getting credit for accepting another extraordinary task, he contends he’s ready for another hard night.
“It’s been on the cards,” he said of the Crawford fight. “We went out to America to make the fight and we were about there 18 hours and then we had to fly back because of Covid but we’ve known this fight has always been there and we’ve finally done it.
“I’m happy. At the end of the day, he’s not boxed anyone the size of me. This is a real fight, it’s a real, top, elite welterweight he’s fighting and a lot of people are talking about age but he’s only a year younger than me, I’m naturally the bigger guy, I’m healthy and a big thing is there’s no [next day] weight limit. With the IBF, I had to make weight, then I had to make weight the next day but what I’ll be is what I’ll be the next day, so the pressure’s on him. I take my hat off to Terence Crawford taking this fight against me. He knows it’s a dangerous fight. He knows. When I went and saw him, he knew I wasn’t a walkover. He said, ‘You just make weight.’ I’ve never gone to the scales and not made weight. I’ve always made weight first time. I’ve never been to a weigh in and used that hour to make weight, I’ve always made it.”
So will weight be an issue for Brook, 39-2 (27KOs), who has been fighting at 154lbs and hasn’t weighed under 147 since he fought Spence in 2017?
He admitted it’s not going to be an easy task but he’s accepted the process and already been chipping away.
“That is a good question, but the fact is I’m at a nice weight, I’ve been in training camp for four months,” he explained. “I knew this fight was coming and I’ve learnt over the years not to balloon up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be difficult to make it, but this will be the best I’ve made it, even better than before.”
He said it was purely logistical why he’s with Formento rather than coach Dominic Ingle, who’s guided him through so much of his career.
“Because of Covid basically,” said Brook, when asked about the change of personnel in the corner. “He [Ingle] was already committed to training Liam Williams and Willie Hutchison but I needed to be out in Fuerteventura in the warm weather and I needed to put that work in and to sacrifice. I had a nutritionist and I needed to focus on the weight and I’ve been training hard out there and I was worried about getting stuck out there with Covid and getting back, and having 14 days [to quarantine] … It’s Covid that’s made it like this.”
It is increasingly unlikely that 34-year-old Brook will ever meet his big domestic rival, Amir Khan, but he watched Khan lose to Crawford back in April last year and has pledged a different outcome for his fight with the brilliant Nebraskan. Khan was stopped in round six and Brook saw Crawford, 36-0 (27), as the boss throughout that New York contest.
“I thought he did what he wanted to do in that fight but we’re talking about Khan and he didn’t go in there with the mindset I’ve got and that’s going in there believing I’m going to win,” said Brook. “I don’t think he believed he was going to win.”