Kell Brook looking to fight the best in 2019
By Tim Royner: Kell Brook did what fans expected him to do in defeating Michael Zerafa by a wide 12 round unanimous decision last Saturday night at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. This was Brook’s second straight tune-up fight in 2018. As far as Brook’s boxing fans go, it was one fight too many against tune-up level opposition.
Brook (38-2, 26 KOs) says he’s done with tune-ups, and he’s now ready to fight the elite in 2019, be it against welterweights or junior middleweights.
Brook easily beat Zerafa (25-3, 14 KOs) by the scores 118-110, 119-109 and 117-111. However, there were no knockdowns, and Brook looked sluggish much of the time. In the later rounds, the younger fighter Zerafa began to land a lot of shots on Brook, and he clearly showed that he was the younger, more energetic fighter. Brook looked a fading fighter on the downside of his career against Zerafa in the later rounds. The way Brook fought, it was impossible to picture him beating any of the top guys at 147 or 154. Brook showed enough to potentially beat Khan, but he’s no longer one of the elite fighters at welterweight. Khan is a guy that was elite seven years ago in 2011, but is now living off the accomplishments that took place more than 2,500 yesterdays ago. Brook wants what be in effect an old timer’s fight against Khan. Both guys are shot, and have done nothing with their careers for a long time. Even when Brook was the IBF welterweight champion from 2014 to 2017, he wasn’t facing real threats for most of that time. The only good fighter Brook fought was Spence, and he lost to him. Brook’s other title defenses of his IBF belt came against Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier. None of those fighters deserved a title shot against Brook, and yet those are the ones that he fought.
The guy that Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn want is Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) in the first quarter of 2019. Khan isn’t considered an elite fighter anymore at 147, but he’s popular in the UK, and well known among the hardcore boxing fans in the U.S. Brook can make a lot of money fighting Khan, 31, if he can get the British fighter to agree to face him. Brook attempted to encourage Khan to finish negotiating the fight with him by announcing after his match against Zerafa that he’s willing to fight him at 147 with the 10 pound rehydration clause that he’s been asking for. Brook has now agreed to everything that Khan has asked from him. If there’s anything else that Khan wants Brook to do, then he’s going to need to say it and let the boxing world now. The fans are soon going to believe that Khan is ducking the fight with Brook.
“I was a bit rusty but it looked good for those opponents that keep running away from me. They might grow a pair and think ‘I can take care of him now,'” Brook said to Sky Sports after his win over the 26-year-old Zerafa.
Brook wants fights against Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter, but those guys have made it clear they’re not interested.
Here are the potential options for Brook to fight in 2019:
This is likely the easiest fight for Brook to get of the true elite fighters that he says he wants to take on in 2019. Brooked earned the World Boxing Association 154 lb mandatory spot to challenge the unbeaten Jarrett Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) last Saturday night with his win over Zerafa in their WBA title eliminator. The WBA sanctioned the Brook-Zerafa fight as a title eliminator with their organization, which means Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing must be interested in having him face Hurd if no other fights against elites are available. That fight is going to be like Brook walking the plank on an old fashioned pirate ship. Hurd is like another Gennady Golovkin in terms of his punching power and aggressive style of fighting. Nothing good can come of Brook fighting Hurd other than another stoppage loss. Hurd is too big, too strong and too relentless for the likes of Brook.
This is one of the fights that Brook should be able to line-up, as Khan is signed with the same promoter as him. Khan had been poised to take the fight with Brook until recently. Khan started looking in another direction after Brook failed to readily agree to the 10 pound rehydration clause that he wanted him to agree to. Khan is now saying that he’s interested in fighting World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford on March 23 on ESPN PPV in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Spence is defending his IBF title against Mikey Garcia on March 16. After that, Spence is expected to fight WBC champion Shawn Porter in a unification fight. Spence also wants to fight WBA Super World welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman. Spence says he would fight Brook again, but he’s got to win a world title at junior middleweight. That’s not happening, since Brook is mostly targeting welterweights.
Porter says he wants to fight Spence and Thurman. Porter has gotten over his loss to Brook from 2014, and he’s now focused on facing Spence and Thurman in the money fights. Porter vs. Brook wouldn’t be a big deal in the United States. Brook lacks the name recognition in the States that would enable Porter to make a lot of money fighting him. Spence and Porter have nothing to gain from fighting Brook. After the way Brook quit against Spence and Gennady Golovkin, he’s now yesterday’s news. Brook stopped fighting good opposition after he lost to Spence, and he’s wasted 2018 taking two tune-ups against lesser fighters at 154. Brook should have fought someone good by now to keep his name among the elites, but for some reason his promoter Eddie Hearn keeps matching him against soft opponents. Even against a weak fighter in Zerafa, Brook didn’t shine last Saturday night.
WBA Super World welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) hasn’t fought since his win over Danny Garcia in March 2017. Thurman has been out with initially an elbow injury, but then later a hand problem as well. Thurman is expected to be back inside the ring on January 26 against tune-up opponent Josesito Lopez at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. If Thurman wins that fight, it’s anyone’s guess who he’ll face. He has a ton of options available to him. Thurman could face Jessie Vargas, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao or Errol Spence. It’s likely Thurman will fight Garcia again in a rematch, and then Porter. Pacquiao is a strong possibility though. There’s more money for Thurman in facing Pacquiao than if he fights Garcia or Porter. Thurman had to give up his WBC title due to his inactivity, but he still has his WBA belt. It’s unlikely that Thurman will show any interest in fighting Brook. There’s too much money for Thurman in fights against Danny Garcia, Pacquiao, Spence and Porter.
Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) is fighting Adrien Broner on January 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao has other great options if he gets past Broner. He can fight Thurman, Danny Garcia, Spence or Porter. Brook would not be a fight that Pacquiao would likely be interested in.
The rest of the pack
If all Brook’s promoter Hearn can get is one of these fighters, then he would have to lump those opponents in the same category as Kell’s two tune-up fights against Zerafa and Sergey Rabchenko. Vargas, Rios, Collao and Berto were at one time some of the best fighters in their weight class, but they’re not elite at this time. Brook gains nothing from fighting them. If Brook wants to fight elite, he’s going to have to fight the likes of Hurd, Porter, Danny Garcia, Spence, Jermell Charlo, Jaime Munguia, Erislandy Lara or Terence Crawford.