Kell Brook primed for Frankie Gavin but eyeing Mayweather
This Saturday unbeaten British star Kell Brook will defend his IBF welterweight title against countryman Frankie Gavin in London, England, and the hard-hitting Sheffield product promises to build on the explosive performance he posted against Jo Jo Dan in March.
Brook was sizzling in a fourth-round-stoppage of his mandatory challenger and put to bed any doubts as to whether he could fully recover from a serious knife wound to the leg, which was sustained during an unprovoked attacked while on holiday in Tenerife.
“It was good to make that first title defense and get the press off my back in relation to the leg injury,” said Brook (34-0, 23 knockouts). “I’d really missed performing so to be back in Sheffield, in front of my fans, doing what I do best, was just fantastic for me.
“Now that I’m back I can get on with my career and rebuild any momentum I may have lost.”
Gavin is a sophisticated southpaw who can tie opponents in knots. The former amateur standout has only lost one of 23 fights (a split decision to Leonard Bundu) but Brook’s proven quality has led to odds makers installing the challenger as a prohibitive 6/1 underdog.
Brook said, “They’re being hard on him because I’m hearing nothing but good things about Frankie Gavin. I’m hearing that he’s looking sensational in sparring and he’s getting the best out of himself in the gym every day. This is his opportunity to win a world title, so he’s living the life and doing things right.
“When there’s no pressure on him that’s when you’re likely to see the best of Frankie Gavin. He’s got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
There is the temptation to say Brook is merely hyping up what many think will be a one-sided, perhaps quick, contest. The man known as “The Special One” is hardly going to go on record as saying this fight is a dud, but he was legitimately sincere when it came to outlining Gavin’s qualities.
“Frankie has a very good eye and he’s precise with his shots,” Brook said. “Defensively he’s also very good at getting out of the way and avoiding punishment. He didn’t win a gold medal at the world championships for nothing. The guy was a brilliant amateur, who hasn’t had his break as a professional yet.
“The reason I’ll beat Frankie is because I’m a level above. I’ve been tested and I’ve proven myself. People were waiting for see if I was the real deal and now they realize that I am. Since what happened (the assault incident) I’ve become a different fighter and no man will take what I have. I’m obsessed with winning and I’m looking to perform to the best of my ability on May 30.”
When Brook won the IBF title from Shawn Porter, last August, he crossed over to top level. Porter was highly touted, favored to win, and had home advantage but the challenger’s crisper punching saw him claim a majority decision in Carson, California. That result combined with Floyd Mayweather’s recent victory over Manny Pacquiao saw Brook promoted to No. 1 in THE RING’s welterweight rankings.
So what did the No. 1 at 147 pounds make of Mayweather, THE RING welterweight champion, versus Pacquiao?
“It was rubbish,” said Brook before laughing at the irony. “To be honest we built it up too much and there was no way it could live up to the hype. I wasn’t one bit surprised with how it went. Mayweather is the best fighter out there but he’s just not entertaining from a fan’s point of view.
“He managed to slow Pacquiao down to the pace he wanted and then controlled things the way he always does.”
When this reporter interviewed Brook prior to “The Fight of the Century” he did tab Mayweather to win a decision. The Sheffield man was also marginally upbeat about his chances of facing the pound for pound king on September 12, in what would be a full unification fight. Those plans were dashed when Mayweather gave up the WBO title he won from Pacquiao, amidst threats that he would relinquish all of his belts.
Brook said, “It’s a bit strange but Al Haymon has probably advised him to do that so all of his fighters can pick up the vacant titles. I was hoping that Mayweather would keep the belts and unify the entire division against me in his last fight. After all, an American versus a Brit is always a huge event on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I need to take care of Frankie first but I would jump at the Mayweather fight in a heartbeat and I still hope it happens. I want to fight the best possible opponents and that includes Pacquiao also.”
So can “Funtime” Frankie Gavin be the proverbial southpaw banana peel or will Brook stop him inside schedule, as most fans and experts are predicting?
“That’s what I’ve trained for,” confirmed Brook confidently. “I’m determined to go out there and do what no other fighter has done to Frankie, and that’s to stop him. That’s what I want you and everyone else to look out for.
“He’s never performed at this level but he needs to perform now. If he doesn’t he’ll get taken out very early.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing