Sheffield Arena, Sheffield - In a final WBA junior middleweight eliminator, former welterweight champion Kell Brook (38-2, 26 KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over Michael Zerafa (25-3, 14 KOs). The scores were 118-110, 119-109 and 117-111.
Zerafa came in riding a nine fight win streak, after suffering a brutal knockout at the hands of Peter Quillin in September 2015. Zerafa was taken out of the ring on a stretcher after that contest.
After suffering back to back knockout loss to Errol Spence and Gennady Golovkin, Brook made his junior middleweight debut in March with an easy two round knockout of Sergey Rabchenko. For the fight Zerafa, Brook squeezed down to 150-pounds - with an eventual goal of getting back to the welterweight limit of 147.
The victory makes Brook the mandatory challenger to a WBA title, but there is no clue as to which WBA title.
The WBA "super" champion Jarrett Hurd, who also has the IBF/IBO world titles. Hurd retained his title last week with a knockout of Jason Welborn on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Michel Soro is the WBA's interim-champion and should be the first in line for a title shot. And then there is WBA "regular" champion Brian Castano, who is heading in the direction of a fight with Erislandy Lara.
Brook began battering Zerafa with heavy punches in the first round. Zerafa's jab was taken away and his nose was already bleeding from the incoming punches.
Zerafa did a little better in the second, but he was still being outpunched in the contest. Zerafa was being game in the third. He was still taking more than he was giving. The action was slowing down in the fourth, with Brook still controlling things and landing accurate punches.
Zerafa was landing punches here and there, but not enough do any real damage. Brook on the other hand, was pushing Zerafa back when connecting and doing obvious damage when landing.
Brook began to pace himself in the later rounds. Zerafa was rallying with big shots in the ninth round, as Brook took his foot off the gas and may have been conserving energy for the final three.
Both had their moments in the tenth, with Brook holding the edge. Brook was just unable to close the show in the final two rounds, with Zerafa holding his own. Brook made the mistake of reckless trading in the twelfth and got tagged hard with several punches that shook him up. Sensing Brook was hurt, Zerafa had him on the run and closed the fight stronger.