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Kell Brook outpoints Michael Zerafa in Sheffield

Kell Brook

By Tim Royner: Kell Brook (38-2, 26 KOs) looked especially bad in defeating Michael Zerafa (25-3, 14 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision in their WBA junior middleweight title eliminator fight on Saturday night on DAZN at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England.

In the 11th and 12th rounds, Brook got lit up like a Christmas tree by Zerafa’s big right hand shots. Those were beautiful punches from Zerafa. If Zerafa had shown the same sense of urgency in the previous 10 rounds of the fight, he might have pulled off an upset, as Brook was very beatable tonight.

The three judges scored it 118-110, 119-109, and 117-111, all for Brook. Boxing News 24 had the 32-year-old Brook winning a comfortable decision by the score 119-109. The only round in which the 26-year-old Zerafa appeared to win was the 12th.

Brook’s timing looked completely off, and his footwork and defense was not there tonight. Compared to Brook’s previous performance last March against Sergey Rabchenko, he looked like he had deteriorated a great deal. However, Brook took a lot of weight to get down to 150 lbs to put himself near 147 to prepare himself for a fight against welterweight potentially against Khan or one of the elite fighters from the 147 lb weight class in his next fight. Taking that weight off might have resulted in Brook being drained tonight, and not the powerful fighter that we saw in his previous fight against Rabchenko last March. Brook looked and fought like a much different fighter tonight.

“I don’t know if I was trying to much, expected too much and was just a bit flat,” Brook said to Sky Sports after the fight. “I was a bit like Klitschko tonight, the right I just couldn’t let it go. But I have got the buzz back, I am reborn and I love boxing again.”

Brook was landing shots in every round, but he wasn’t able to hurt the rugged 26-year-old Zerafa, who has fought much of his career at middleweight and even super middleweight. Zerafa moved down to 154 in 2018, and his punch resistance is good at this weight. Brook didn’t posses the power to hurt Zerafa.

The victory for former International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Brook makes him the mandatory challenger to WBA Super World junior middleweight champion Jarett Hurd. However, that’s not the fight that Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn both want. They’re interested in a big domestic level clash against Amir ‘King’ Khan. That’s the fight they’re hoping they can make, but it’s going to be hard to put together without some give on Brook’s side. Khan wants him to agree to a 10 lb rehydration clause before he’ll sign, and thus far he’s not been receptive at all in doing that. With Brook not agreeing to the rehydration clause, Khan is talking about fighting WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford next in March. If that fight happens, Brook is going to need to fight someone else while he waits for Khan to finish with Crawford. Earning the WBA mandatory position at 154 puts Brook in the driver’s seat to face the unbeaten Hurd if he wants that fight.

After tonight’s fight, Brook called out Amir Khan, who looks to be heading towards a world title shot against Crawford. Brook says Khan only has one more fight remaining under contract with Matchoom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, so he’s got to make the fight with him next.

“It has to happen next. He’s got one more fight with Eddie,” Brook said. “It was supposed to me and him getting it on in the big one, but he is just running off again. Listen, I am ready. I will get back in the gym, I am hungry again, I am reborn and I am ready to take the world on.”

Brook anything but ready tonight. He was getting hit a lot by Zerafa all night. The way that Brook fought, you have to believe that Khan has a very good chance of beating him in 2019, especially if he can get him to agree to the 10 pound rehydration clause that he’s pushing for. The combination of Brook needing to melt down to 147 for the weigh-in, and the secondary weigh-in limit of 157 lbs on the morning of the fight will do a number on him. Brook will be vulnerable. He’ll still have a good chance of winning the fight if he can lad his power shots on Khan’s chin, but he’s going to need to be a lot better than he was tonight for him to win. Right now, Brook needs to agree to the 10 lb rehydration clause that Khan is asking for, because he’s not going to get the fight with him unless he does say yes to that.

It would be in Brook’s best interest to stay far, far away from WBA 154 lb champion Jarrett Hurd.

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