By Scott Gilfoid: Kell Brook will be taking another tune-up when he gets back in the ring on December 8 against 2nd tier fighter Michael Zerafa in a junior middleweight contest in Sheffield, England to get ready for a mega-clash in March against Amir Khan.
This should be a fun little mismatch. Zerafa is easy to hit, little experience, and he’s a weak puncher. He’s perfect for Brook to fight in a showcase match to make him look sensational. Brook needs to look good right now to erase the image of him quitting in his fights against Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady Golovkin. Both of those fighters stopped Brook after he quit. Brook quit on a knee in the 11th round against Spence in May 2017, and he stopped punching in the 5th against Golovkin in their fight in September 2016. Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle threw in the towel to have the referee stop the fight in the 5th round against GGG after Kell stopped fighting back.
Sky Sports will be showing the Brook vs. Zerafa fight in the United Kingdom and DAZN will be streaming it for their subscribers in the United States.
It’s unclear whether it was Brook or his promoter Eddie Hearn’s idea for him to fight Zerafa on December 8. It’s the type of opponent that suggests that there’s worry about whether Brook can handle a good contender at 154. One can argue that if Hearn believed Brook to capable of defeating a top contender at junior middleweight, he wouldn’t be matching him against a fighter in Zerafa’s class. Brook obviously can’t afford to lose his December 8 fight due to the big payday looming just over the horizon against Khan.
“I want to close the year in special fashion and set up some blockbuster fights in 2019 – I was ringside for Amir Khan’s last fight, so let’s see if he’ll be there on December 8, or will he be too shook for Brook? Brook said.
It’s likely that Khan won’t be there for Brook’s fight. It’s too much of a mismatch for Khan to show up, and I don’t think he’ll want to be a part of it. It’s a bad look on Brook’s part for him to be facing such a poor opponent. It might actually hurt the Khan fight instead of building it up for Brook to be facing Zerafa rather than a top contender or champion at 154. It would be nice for Brook to show some courage by taking on a top flight opponent, as that would show the boxing public that he’s serious about his career. Right now, a lot of boxing fans in the UK see Brook as just cashing out with easy fights before he retires from the sport. Khan is the only serious fighter that Brook is talking about nowadays, and it gives the appearance that he’s looking to retire once he gets that fight.
“This is the biggest opportunity of Zerafa’s career and he will be coming over here to take my scalp but there’s levels in this game and I need to put him away to get the big fights that I desire,” Brook said.
There are certainly levels to the game in boxing, which makes it even questionable why Brook is choosing to fight Zerafa rather than someone like Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams. Brook can probably beat Williams, and even WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia. That’s what makes it so disappointing to see Brook underachieving with his career. I mean, Brook lost to Spence and Golovkin, but those are sensational fighters. That doesn’t mean he needs to give up on fighting the best fighters. If this is Hearn’s idea for Brook to take on poor opposition, then that’s sad. If it’s Brook that is the one picking out his opponents, which is highly doubtful, then he needs a pep talk to encourage him to start fighting better opposition. Brook looked as good as always in his last fight against Rabchenko. There was no sign of him having lost any part of his game. He’s still in his prime.
Although Hearn has expressed doubt whether he can get the Khan-Brook fight over the finish line due to Khan’s insistence on a 10 lb rehydration clause, it seems that he’s confident that he’ll be able to get the fight made. Hearn made the heavyweight clash Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora 2 fight for December 22 despite the huge obstacles during the negotiations, so there’s a good chance he’ll get the Khan vs. Brook fight done as well. However, Brook can’t lose before then on December 8, and that’s why he’s being matched against against Zerafa instead of a good fighter in the 147 or 154 lb weight classes. Hearn would likely make the Khan-Brook fight anyway if Brook lost on December 8, but the interest in the fight would be far less than it will be if he wins his next fight and looks good in doing so. Hearn matching Brook against two lower level opponents in a row in Zerafa and Rabchenko does little to build the Khan-Brook fight, but oh well. If Hearn believed Brook capable of beating the lions at 154 like Erislandy Lara, Jarrett Hurd, Jermell Charlo, Julian ‘J-Rock-Williams and Jaime Munguia, he would be matching him against one ofthem on December 8 instead of feeding him the little known Zerafa.
Brook can’t lose to the Australian 26-year-old Zerafa to keep alive his chances of a Khan fight in early 2019. Zerafa has only fought one contender during his seven-year pro career and that was a match against former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin in 2015. Zerafa was stopped in the 4th round by Quillin. It was a really bad one-way beating inflicted on Zerafa by Quillin. Everything Quillin threw landed flush, and was a fight that was too one-sided to be of interest by boxing fans. Zerafa was getting hit with everything Quillin threw in their fight in September 2015. It’s interesting to note that Quillin was knocked out in the 1st round in his next fight by Daniel Jacobs in December 2015. That kind of puts things in perspective.
This isn’t the fight that Brook’s boxing fans were hoping to see before his long awaited clash with Khan The fans wanted to see the 32-year-old Brook (37-2, 26 KOs) fight a top contender at 147 or 154 before taking on Khan, as Kell’s last opponent journeyman Sergey Rabchenko was completely over-matched last March by him. Brook stopped Rabchenko in 2 rounds on March 3 in Sheffield, and he very likely could have halted him in the 1st round if he was so inclined. Brook is still in his prime more or less, and he doesn’t need to be taking tune-ups one after another at his age.
Brook won the World Boxing Council Silver junior middleweight title last March with his destruction of the 32-year-old Rabchenko (29-4, 22 KOs). The WBC gives their Silver titles away to contenders that they’re interested in ranking high enough to have them fight for a world title. In Brook’s case, it’s likely a complete waste of time, since he’s zero interest in challenging WBC 154 lb champion Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) for his title.
It’s safe to say that the WBC is wasting their time ranking Brook high with their organization, because he doesn’t seem to be interested in fighting Charlo. The only guy Brook is focused on is trying to get a fight against Khan, which could be a cash out. A lot of boxing fans believe Brook will retire if/when he gets his big payday fight against Khan that he’s been after for the last 10 years of his career.
Brook’s dream fight against Khan is still very much in doubt over the rehydration clause that is being asked for by Amir. Khan wants the fight to take place at 147, which Brook has embraced without any grumbling, but he also wants the Special One to agree to a 10 lb rehydration limit. This would limit Brook’s ability to rehydrate into the 170s until after the secondary weigh-in on the day of the fight. Brook can still rehydrate as much as he likes, but only after he makes weight for the secondary weigh-in. Brook thus far is rejecting the rehydration clause, so it’s unclear whether the Khan-Brook fight will go ahead or not in 2019.
For the Zerafa fight, Brook will be trained by John Fewkes rather than his long-time trainer Dominic Ingle, who is busy training other fighters right now. Brook will likely be fine training with Fewkes for this fight, as it’s not expected to be competitive. Brook is capable of beating far better opposition than Zerafa, but this is the guy that Hearn is matching him against.