Kell Brook vs. Sergey Rabchenko – analysis & prediction
By Scott Gilfoid: Kell Brook makes his first fight at junior middleweight tonight against Sergey Rabchenko on Sky Sports Boxing at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. This is an important fight for the 31-year-old Brook that could help determine where he’s going to go in the future or if he’s going to have any kind of future at all, period.
Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) says he can’t fight at welterweight any longer due to the problems he has making the 147 lb. weight limit. But if the 31-year-old Brook isn’t sturdy and talented enough to compete on a high level at 154 without breaking down physically or getting overpowered by the fighters in that weight class, then it’s time for ‘Terminator’ Brook to hang up his gloves.
Brook’s once great career has disappeared with him suffering disappointing injuries and loses to Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin in his last 2 fights. Brook maintains that he was fighting in the wrong weight class in struggling to get his weight down to fight at 147 each time. However, the weight class gave Brook an advantage due to his ability to rehydrate after making weight use his size to overpower lighter fighters than him.
At junior middleweight, Brook is not going to have that same advantage that he had fighting at welterweight. If he’s going to make it in the junior middleweight division, he’s going to have to do it with talent and his ring IQ, Brook is already being offered a world title shot against arguably the best champion in the 154 lb. weight class in WBC belt holder Jermell ‘Iron Man’ Charlo. All Charlo wants to see is Brook decimating Rabchenko tonight within 6 rounds. If Brook can do that, Charlo says he can be his next opponent in June on Showtime Boxing.
”I train like a dog and I eat and fight like a lion. If Kell Brook thinks he’s got what it takes, put his money up, tell his people to come over here, jump on a private jet,” Jermell Charlo said in sending Brook an invitation to fight him.
Brook’s long-time promoter Eddie Hearn probably won’t want to let him get anywhere near a talent like 27-year-old Jermell Charlo. If that fight is to take place, it’ll be because of Brook demanded it rather than Hearn wanting him to take it. Brook is the one that told Hearn he wanted to face the 31-year-old Rabchenko (29-2, 22 KOs) on March 3. That wasn’t Hearn’s doing to pick out the powerful Belarusian Rabchenko. This is Brook’s baby. He’s the one that made the choice to face Rabcehnko.
All Hearn did was give Brook a list of a bunch of junior middleweights that he wanted him to pick from. Hearn obviously made a mistake with him including Rabchenko’s name on the list. In hindsight, Hearn probably should have kept Rabchenko’s name off of the list. If Brook can’t handle a guy like Rabchenko, then he has no business fighting at 154, because this is a guy that would likely be bludgeoned into the canvas against the likes of Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. Heck, even Sadam Ali and Liam Smith would likely do a job on Rabchenko. But those guys aren’t coming off of back to back stoppage losses to Golovkin and Errol Spence. Further, those fighters aren’t coming back from a second eye surgery like Brook.
Maybe if those fighters were having eye problems after getting stopped in consecutive fights to Golovkin and Spence, they not be in the best shape to get past a hard puncher like Rabchenko. The timing of Brook facing Rabchenko is frankly terrible. This is not the type of fighter you want to fight after you’ve been stopped by Spence and GGG. Brook should have fought Rabchenko during the high point of his career after his last win over Kevin Bizier two years ago in March 2016.
If Brook had taken on Rabchenko in September 2016 instead of fighting Triple G, he likely would have beaten him with no problems. But right now, it’s murky whether this is the right situation for Brook to be fighting Rabchenko. Personally, I wouldn’t make this fight if I were Brook’s promoter. Of course, I think I would be a lot more vocal in trying to keep Brook from taking this fight than Hearn. Somehow, I doubt Hearn was overly assertive when Brook told him that he wanted to fight Rabchenko.
Someone needed to be the mature person in the room to set limits for Brook to tell him you don’t make fights like this when you’re coming off of 2 eye injuries against big punchers. I hate to say it but Brook might end up learning a hard lesson tonight. It’s too bad he couldn’t have been saved from himself by Hearn telling him that he absolutely can’t take this fight.
”I’ve got lots of energy and I’m looking to go old school in this fight. Be a bit lighter on my feet and use the ring well,” Brook said to skysports.com.
By Brook saying he wants to go “old school” with Ranchenko, that’s code for he wants to slug it out with him. It sounds really bad like Brook hasn’t learned his lesson from his losses to GGG and Spence. I blame that on all the soft jobs that Hearn set Brook up with over the years. Brook has had so many poor opponents that it’s planted ideas into his head, making him think he’s omnipotent. Now we’re seeing Brook thinking he can walk on water and beat a brutal puncher in Rabchenko tonight. I think this is going to be bad. I just hope for Brook’s sake his trainer has the white towel ready to throw it into the ring when/if things start going bad for ‘Terminator’ tonight. Brook can’t be left out there too long if he starts getting worked over by Rabchenko.
I’m fairly certain the wily Hearn will find a way to rebuild Brook if he loses to Rabchenko tonight. If Hearn can set Brook up with a couple of quick soft jobs at 147 or 154, he can then hurriedly make the fight Khan fight for him later this year or in early 2019. You can’t underestimate Hearn’s ability to resurrect fighters whose careers are seen as being over. Hearn can probably bring Brook back even if he gets knocked out brutally by Rabchenko tonight. But Hearn is going to need to take the reins and be the one that is making the choices when it comes to Brook’s opposition. Hearn can’t leave it up to Brook to choose his own opponent, because he’d probably pick out Jermell Charlo and wind up getting blasted out in 1 round like we saw recently with Erickson Lubin.
Brook, 31, says his surgically repaired eye sockets held together nicely during his sparring sessions in preparing for the Rabchenko fight. The surgeons strengthened his eye sockets with titanium plates. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Brook can’t be knocked out by Rabechenko tonight, as one of the major problems we saw in his last 2 fights was related to his stamina. Brook looked tired against GGG and Spence. Those guys wore him down with their heavy shots. Brook’s running probably helped tire him out. He can’t run all the time tonight because he’s going to be fighting on fumes in the second half of the contest. Rabchenko likes to stalk his opponents in the same way that Golovkin does, and wear his opponents down with his pressure.
My prediction is Brook will beat Rabchenko by grueling 12 round unanimous decision. It won’t be easy, but he’ll use the same movement that he employed against Golovkin to out-box the slow-footed Rabchenko. Brook has too much speed for Rabchenko. As long as Brook doesn’t get tired from moving, he should win tonight without too many problems.