By Terence Dooley
Promoter Frank Warren reached out to BoxingScene.com to put across his views on Kell Brook's move to Matchroom Sport. Matchroom's Eddie Hearn told me earlier this week that, “Kell definitely needs a challenge”, which prompted Warren to defend his handling of Kell, placing the blame for periods of inactivity on Brook's shoulders as well as pointing out that 'Special K' was offered fights with Mike Jones, Cornelius Bundrage and WBA light-middleweight title holder Miguel Cotto.
“I just want to put the record straight as far as Kell's concerned. First of all, I chose not to renew his contract or be involved with him any more. I contacted his father, Terry, and told him I didn't want to promote Kell. Kell's career is in the hands of his father, which has been detrimental to his career,” insists Warren.
“I've also been hearing about his inactivity. He had a car crash and didn't fight as a result of that. I also stopped him fighting over a weight issue when he was with Dave Coldwell because he (Brook) wasn't watching his weight, he was ballooning in weight, so I pulled him off a show.
“He then had that nightclub incident court appearance last year [a violent assault conviction which was later overturned] and, again, was in danger of being out because of that. In fact, when he initially went to court he was found guilty and went through to sentencing so I wrote to the judge, who said that my letter was the reason he wasn't passing a custodial sentence.
“Subsequently, Kell appealed the judgement and it was quashed, had it stayed, he'd have avoided prison due to the letter that I sent through. Regarding the last few months, certainly the last five months, he was offered a fight in writing against Mike Jones, he was also offered Cotto and 'K9' Bundrage, all in writing.”
Brook is currently ranked #2 by the WBO, Jones occupies top spot. Hearn told me that he is working with the WBO to deliver his new signing a title tilt. Warren believes that his hard work in getting Kell into position has been overlooked.
Stating, “I got him ranked at number one with the WBO. As for his profile, all the things I've mentioned didn't exactly help. The facts are, the car crash, the court case and all those things happening made it hard to build his profile – I kept him active in boxing despite all that crap.
“Over the years he's had a stabbing [in 2007] as well as everything else. All those things affect his ability to fight, he also pulled out of a fight with a broken rib if I recall [Writer's note: Last May's mooted showdown with Jennings, which was moved to September but at one point looked to have been KO'd by the court case]. Every one of those things was self-inflicted yet he was still number one in the world.”
He added: “The last fight, which I had a big argument with his father over, was [December's opponent] Philip Kotey, who came in on three days notice when the original opponent [America's] Michael Clark pulled out. We managed to keep Kell on the card and more importantly for him we didn't give him less money because he was getting a lesser opponent – we kept him on the same money as he would have got for Clark.
“I just wanted to set that straight. It looks from the way Hearn and his comments are presented that this kid has been sitting on his arse but that isn't the case. I agreed Jones in writing with Bob Arum, Cotto also, even though it meant Kell stepping up in weight – he's struggling anyway – and I offered him Bundrage, which I thought was a really good fight for him.”
Brook faces Africa's Lovemore N'Dou at Hillsborough leisure centre on June 25th. The fight is generally perceived as a solid step. Warren, though, believes it is a regressive move given the other names linked with Brook.
“They're putting him in with N'Dou who has had eight fights in four years and only won three of them. Hardly a step up in class. He's 39-years of age, three or four months off not being eligible by the BBBoC to fight in this country. Plus the Hillsborough leisure centre, which holds about a thousand people, is hardly what I'd call big time boxing.”
Hearns feels that the Lovemore fight will lead to a world title, telling me that he aims to put on a huge domestic bill should Carl Froch reach the Super Six final, with Brook said to be meeting “one of the belt-holders in his division” on the show. Warren, however, insists that Brook would have been given a marquee fight had he stayed put.
“I'm telling you, he turned it down, I have it in writing – one hundred percent,” stated Warren in response to reminders of Kell's eagerness for a Jones eliminator bout. “The father can't be dealt with. Why not fight Bundrage? Don King and I were close on that one. It was a great fight for him. How long can Kell do welterweight? He'll end up dead on his arse at that weight so should have taken these fights.
“As for the Cotto offer. I offer him that fight and this is how his dad responds to the conversation, 'Why can't Kell fight Pacquiao?' It is beyond belief how anyone can even say that,” says Warren. “His exact quote was, 'Kell'll fight Pacquiao for twenty quid because he can beat him.' That makes no sense.
“The bottom line is that Kell could have been further down the road had he not got himself into these situations outside the ring, whether they were down to him or not they held him back and were beyond my control. You're talking about his profile. He was tagged for months. He couldn't always be ringside because he had a tag on and had to be home for a curfew.
“Look at the fights he pulled out of. I didn't pull him out of those fights. The only time I did that was when he wasn't knuckling down and had a weight problem. I won't stand for that. If you ain't in shape and I find out then you ain't going to fight. For Eddie to come out with this crap is unbelievable. I'm not exactly impressed with N'Dou, he's forty in three months and we ain't talking about Bernard Hopkins here.
“Another thing, just while I'm commentating on what I'm reading, I'm reading the Carl Froch stuff and that is a joke. Hearn said they negotiated with the TV companies and [Lou] DiBella, the fact of the matter is that the Super Six is a signed deal, the deal states that the next two fights are in the US, end of story. All they've done is signed Froch and put him on Sky, like anyone would do.”
Warren also wanted to set the record straight regarding Eddie's promotional experience and Matchroom's previous big shows, most notably the rematch between Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn at Old Trafford. “People are also reinventing history here,” answered Warren.
“The second Benn and Eubank fight was put together by Barry Hearn, Don King and myself, the three of us were included in that show. And none of the fighters named in this article have been built up by Matchroom – they're not prospects.
“If you're number two in the world you're not a prospect, if you're a former European champion you're not a prospect and Froch is a world champion. Darren Barker and those guys aren't babies. It is ridiculous. Whatever your views are on [Mick] Hennessy as a promoter, and I have my own views, the bottom line is that he brought them [Barker and Froch] to titles. They may not have fought regularly but he got them into position from day one.
“The ridiculous comments just keep coming. Audley Harrison can win the world title, Paul McCloskey will beat Amir Khan and then you had him calling Primetime amateurs. Claiming Khan-McCloskey wouldn't sell only for it to do 70,000 buys.
“It is like saying the first thing that comes into your head and unfortunately some of these kids are being taken in by it but over time we'll see the bottom line. I'm sure Eddie learned a lot from his old man but we'll see what happens in due course with Kell, he's been a bad lad out of the ring, a bad lad, and the problem was keeping him going and keeping the faith with him.”
Brook cited a desire for a Sheffield showcase as one of his reasons for switching. Warren believes that, historically, 'The Steel City' is a tough place when it comes to staging events.
“The Sheffield issue is something we could have done with a big fight but you know what, I've done big shows in Sheffield before and we barely drew our breath. I put on a Chris Pyatt against Steve Collins, a WBO world title bill in Sheffield, with Naz [Hamed] fighting [Vincenzo Belcastro], and we couldn't sell fifteen hundred tickets so you have to look at Sheffield and how you make it work.”
Certainly, Warren feels that Hearn still has a long way to go and should not call on Matchroom's long boxing history when looking to the future. He said, “I certainly don't need Eddie telling anyone how to build a fighter that's already been with me. I was doing this before he was born.”
“I read about him attending [Joe] Bugner and [Frank] Bruno when he was little, he's thirty-one so he'd have been seven years of age then. So what did he get from that? And he talks about experiences of a [Chris] Eubank fight in South Africa [against Dan Schommer] which took place when he was a teenager. Fair enough, he's been around the sport with his old man but he's not been at this end of things for long. I read some of the stuff and I don't know how somebody doesn't say, 'Hang on, you're only thirty-one', when he talks about these fights.”
“But the thing I'm concerned about is the way Hearn has presented Kell, like this kid hasn't had anything happen for him. A lot has happened for him and more would have happened if it wasn't for his problems out of the ring and his father, and you can quote me on that,” concluded Warren, before confirming his anticipation ahead of next week's double header at the O2 Arena featuring Nathan Cleverly's WBO light-heavyweight title challenge to Germany's Juergen Braehmer and the grudge match between James DeGale and George Groves.
Ironically, John Murray moved over from Hennessy to Warren in a bid for world titles and greater activity. Mick guided Murray to WBC Youth, English, British and European titles yet the 26-year-old felt he needed something more going into the most crucial phase of his career. By the end of the July 9 showdown with Kevin Mitchell, Murray could have two fights in four months under his belt as well as concluding domestic business. Warren confirmed his delight over putting the fight together.
“It will be in London,” confirmed Warren when switching his attention to the tasty M & M meeting. “We are looking at a couple of places and will announce the venue next week. I am looking forward to it, yeah. I think you are going to get something special from these two because it is one of those types of fights.”
As for what awaits the winner and loser. “I think it depends on how you lose, Terry. But the winner is coming through a fight that will put him in a really strong position because I'll make something happen for him.”
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