John Fewkes opens up on Kell Brook split and issue with Dominic Ingle
By Mehmood Ahmad: John Fewkes has given a revealing insight into his relationship with Kell Brook and precisely what happened during their short one fight training partnership. Fewkes comes across exceptionally well, a genuine pointful speaker, full of common sense and knowledgeable in the fight game. He has his own amateur boxing club, the Titans Boxing Gym in Sheffield, and cares for the young fighters that venture through there.
Fewkes and Kell Brook first met through the boxing scene when both were aged just 14. They trained and sparred together, built somewhat of a rivalry, and held wins over each other at the amateur level. They had similar personalities being from the same local area with Fewkes commenting on how their “similar eating habits” helped to grow their friendship before they turned pro together on the same day in 2004. Despite Fewkes” fighting career not blossoming the way Brooks did, the two remained in touch for the many years that have followed and met up in-between fights continuing to get on well.
Things took an unexpected turn when Fewkes received a call from Brook asking him to come to Fuerteventura the following week, taken off guard Fewkes rejected the offer as he was busy with his fighters to work with at his gym. Undeterred Brook called him again a week later to ask once more, Fewkes made a point to question whether Brook wanted him out there to train him or just fill in some time to which Brook confirmed he wanted him to train him. Dominic Ingle was in Canada with Billy Joe Saunders, and Brook wanted some quality one to one training. Still seemingly unsure Fewkes flew out thinking it may just be for a week before realizing Brook had only booked a one-way ticket, Brook confirmed he wanted him to be his trainer, he had had offers from other trainers but had chosen Fewkes who he wanted to make a fresh start with. The camp continued in Fuerteventura for three weeks before a further three weeks in the UK together in the build-up to the Michael Zarafa fight in December 2018.
Fewkes is sincere in saying the camp went brilliantly, sounding almost emotional in response to comments made about Brook quitting in the Errol Spence fight. Clichés are popular in Boxing, but Fewkes doesn’t appear the type of speaking words unnecessarily, his face tightened as if portraying how hard Brook trained and enforcing the point that there is no quit in Brook. Too many comments on how difficult it is for Brook to make weight for it not to be true.
Fewkes makes no excuses for Brook’s performance in the Zarafa fight. He acknowledges Brook underperformed and pinned this down to him, not following the game plan. Commentators on the night pointed out Brook was not following instructions given in the corner as the rounds progressed. The boxing world expected so much from Brook they forgot to expect anything from Zarafa. Brook tried too hard from the first round onwards, leading to a struggling points win most, including Eddie Hearn, were disappointed with.
Brook went straight back into the gym with Fewkes following the win, which is unusual for Brook, known for indiscipline and to bulk up in weight between fights. Indeed, he trained three to four times a week through the Christmas period and the new year brought the possibility of fighting on the Joshua undercard in the US in June 2019. However, by March, nothing had been confirmed, and things started to fall apart, Brook developed a chest infection which resulted in his training sessions dropping to once a week before Brook got fed up and stopped training altogether. Weeks turned to months. Fewkes called Brook repeatedly, and Brook assured he would be back, but, as it turned out, Fewkes would not see Brook back in his gym training again.
Sometime later, Brook contacted Fewkes to explain the situation as he had been back to the Ingle gym to see Kid Galahad and had ended up ticking over with sessions in the gym there with Dominic Ingle. Billy Joe Saunders had returned; Liam Williams was back in training, and Galahad had a big fight coming up. Fewkes appreciated Brook’s honesty and fully understood the situation. Brook had been in the Ingle gym since he was a kid, Dominic was like family to him and the gym a home. Brook didn’t know the other boys at Fewkes gym, who was a little starstruck by him, making it difficult to form a bond and fun environment to train in. At the Ingle gym Brook was surrounded by people he knew and was comfortable with, and who were comfortable enough with him to share a joke with through the lonely stresses of training. It made absolute sense for him to be surrounded by other world-class boxers to push him on during training; at his level, this could make all the difference.
Fewkes is clever enough to realize he gained publicity and is grateful for the experience. He has aims to take fighters from the amateurs through to world championship level and knows working under the lights of a big fight night with a world star can only benefit him. And he is grateful for the chance Brook took on him, which has resulted in a boost to attendance levels at his boxing gym in Sheffield. He is keen to point out there has been no fall out with Brook and sees no need for there to be any hard feelings.
There was speculation regarding some comments made by Dominic Ingle, however, who suggested Fewkes would not have known Brook long enough to know how to control him as well as there being issues during the Zarafa fight week. This seemed to be the only thing that prickled Fewkes, who stated no-one else who was involved in the camp stated there were any issues and correctly noted any time a boxer joined a new trainer time would be needed for the two to get used to each other. Again, this was only common sense. Again, Fewkes understood Ingle may have been bitter at the temporary split with Brook but was incisive in saying he did not appreciate the unnecessary little digs from him. Fewkes has since been down to the Ingle gym with a few of his fighters to spar and spoken to Ingle, with the situation being resolved professionally.
When asked about Brook’s future, Fewkes had some interesting points to make. Overall he would prefer the Liam Smith fight in Liverpool where he feels a great atmosphere would be generated. He rates Smith but seems confident in Brook winning the battle, still being fit and technically clever enough to beat him.
Fewkes is a big Saul ”Canelo” Alvarez fan but feels the Mexican has been tainted by his failed drugs sample, leaving him to put Terence Crawford up there as pound for pound number two after Vasyl Lomachenko. He sees Crawford as a hard fight for Brook and was honest enough to say he would favor Crawford despite giving Brook a big chance.
Fewkes has spent a fair amount of time with Amir Khan, has worked with and sparred him in the past, and believes Khan doesn’t get the credit he deserves for what he has done in the game pointing to his win over Marcos Maidana. He would show no disrespect to Khan and thought it to be a 50/50 fight previously, but after seeing both up close in training, he said his money would be on Brook all day long. And he says Khan may outbox Brook for a few rounds, but Brook would eventually get to him, being too big and too strong in true Carl Froch-esque fashion. He pointed to the fact that punch resistance goes a bit with age and believes although Khan couldn’t hurt Brook, Brook would certainly hurt Khan.
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