By Nick Halling
Kell Brook is currently at his training camp in Tenerife wondering what’s happening with his IBF welterweight title fight with Shawn Porter. This one’s been up in the air for the last couple of weeks now, with all kinds of misinformation being bandied about – and most of it has been coming from Porter’s end.
The original 9 August date has definitely gone, but it looks like the delay is going to be a short one. Pencil in the 6th of September as the new date, with a venue to be confirmed in the near future. Whispers out of the IBF corridors of power are that Porter has finally signed his contract, so all necessary paperwork is finally in place. This one looks like it’s definitely happening.
Ever since his proposed fight with Devon Alexander was postponed three times, then scrapped altogether, Brook’s desire for a world title fight has been called into question by some, but on this occasion, the unbeaten Sheffield fighter is completely blameless.
All the delays have come from Porter’s end. Brook initially agreed to step aside to allow Porter to fight Paulie Malignaggi, but that contract called for the winner to defend against Brook. It seems Porter’s people were keen to look at alternative options. There were rumours of a possible fight with Floyd Mayweather, as well as talk of a proposed engagement with Adrien Broner. As Porter is looked after by Al Haymon, it’s not hard to see why such rumours were being kicked around.
It sounds like the talk has come to nothing, however, and with Brook’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, keeping the pressure on the IBF, the champion has been given the stark option of facing Brook, or being stripped. With no alternative scenario currently on the radar, Porter will therefore have to defend against Brook.
Whether any of this horse trading will have an effect on the notoriously-skittish Brook remains to be seen. The indications are that he has maintained his focus, and that the four-week delay will have little effect on his preparations. Barring any last-minute injuries (and Brook has had one or two of those in the past), his long wait for a world title fight finally appears to be coming to an end.
Brook isn’t the only British fighter currently awaiting confirmed details of a world title opportunity. British super middleweight champion Paul Smith is also on deck, waiting for news on his proposed challenge to WBO boss Arthur Abraham.
This one has already been unofficially announced as taking place on the 27th of September, and all the ducks appear to be in a row. Both fighters want it, both promoters are happy with it, and the fight has a confirmed slot on German television. So why the long wait for official confirmation?
The problem is a simple one, and it’s to do with finding a venue. Abraham wants the fight in his adopted hometown of Berlin. But the preferred venue, the 12,000-seater Velodrome, is already booked out on 27 September. Promoters Sauerland are currently looking around for an alternative location in the city.
If they can’t find something suitable in Berlin, that will not mean the fight is off. It will simply be held somewhere else in Germany. Smith will definitely get his shot at the title in September – he just doesn’t yet know which German airport he will be flying into.
Scott Quigg will be defending his WBA super bantamweight title in Manchester on 13 September, but while it wont be a big-money unification fight against WBC title-holder Leo Santa Cruz, there’s a good chance that a Mexican will be in the opposite corner.
Insider gossip suggests that former WBC boss Victor Terrazas is the name being lined up as the proposed opponent. If true, it makes a lot of sense. As a former champion, Terrazas brings solid credibility. In terms of style, he is similar to Santa Cruz, so he would be a perfect opponent in terms of preparing Quigg for a future bout with Santa Cruz.
This is the route being planned by Quigg’s ambitious trainer, Joe Gallagher. Gallagher is keen to launch his fighter onto the American scene, and would happily fight Santa Cruz on the West Coast. He believes Quigg’s style would be popular among American and Latino fight fans, and sees a tempting scenario of a succession of big-money fights against well-known opposition.
But as Quigg has yet to be completely proven at elite level, Terrazas would represent an intelligent stepping stone. If Quigg can look good against the former champ, he’d certainly be well-placed for Santa Cruz. If he can then successfully unify the titles, he becomes a legitimate bigtime player.
If Terrazas does come over, he’ll be hoping for better fortunes than his last visit to the UK four years ago. Then, the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud meant that he had to drive overland across Europe for 48 hours to make his rendezvous with Rendall Munroe in a WBC eliminator. Suitably drained, Terrazas started fast, only to fade just as quickly, before eventually succummbing in nine. No doubt he’ll be checking Icelandic volcanic activity reports before booking his passage to Manchester.
Super middleweight prospect Callum Smith (younger brother of WBO title hopeful Paul), is facing a change of opponent when he is back in action in his home city of Liverpool on 12 July. Smith was booked to fight American southpaw Vladine Biosse, but official word out of New England is that Biosse has damaged a hand and isn’t coming. That’s the official word. The unofficial word is that Biosse’s people have checked out Smith’s work on youtube and decided they have better places to be than Liverpool next month.
Smith’s entire camp has been spent working with southpaws, including a recent sparring session with one-time fringe middleweight world title contender Craig McEwan, so the search is on to find a replacement to step in at relatively short notice.
It’s not going to be an easy ask. Although still an 11-fight novice, the younger Smith is widely recognised as one of the brightest prospects in world boxing. With nine straight stoppages to his name, the2 4-year-old already looks well beyond domestic class, and there’s a chance he might never fight for the British title. He’s on the outer edges of world level already. You don’t have to travel far to find respected, knowledgeable fight observers who think he might already be too good for the likes of George Groves.
But a southpaw is essential for the next step in his education. The hunt is on, and the new opponent can be virtually certain of two things. First, he’s going to be in for a short night’s work. And second, he can expect a hefty pay packet for his efforts.
Nick Halling is a commentator for Sky Sports