Fight Picks: Who wins Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence Jr.?
Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. will meet on Saturday in an eagerly anticipated IBF welterweight shootout at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, in front of 30,000 screaming fans – the vast majority supporting Brook. The bout will be broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office from 6 p.m. GMT and on Showtime at 5:15 ET/PT.
It’s a fight that has long been in the making. Last August, Spence knocked out Leonard Bundu in six rounds to become Brook’s IBF mandatory. Less than a month later, Brook made the bold move to step up to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin. Although Brook was stopped and suffered a broken eye-socket, his performance was commendable.
It was widely anticipated that after letting his face recover, Brook would return at junior middleweight. However, earlier this year he threw everyone a curveball by announcing that he intended to honor his commitment and face Spence and once again fight at welterweight.
Brook (36-1, 25 knockouts), who recently turned 31, has been a pro since 2004. He seamlessly moved through the domestic scene in Britain and won the Lonsdale belt and a cache of regional belts before his big opportunity came in the fall of 2014, when he met Shawn Porter for the IBF strap. Although it was an evenly matched contest – many, including our experts, predicted a Porter win, with home advantage playing a key roll – Brook proved the doubters wrong and won a majority decision to bring the title back to Britain. Since then, he’s tallied three defenses before losing his unbeaten record last time out to Golovkin.
Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) has been tipped for stardom since his amateur days. He won a slew of titles before representing America at the 2011 World Championships and then the Olympics in 2012, reaching the quarterfinals of both tournaments. He debuted as a pro later that year and has since reeled off 21 consecutive wins. Although Spence hasn’t beaten anyone of huge significance, it’s been more the way he’s walked through his opponents to date that catches the eye. At 27, the heavy-handed southpaw seems primed to break out.
There are several intangibles that figure to play key roles in how this fight will play out: How will Brook find making 147 pounds, having not fought at the weight in over a year? Has Brook recovered psychologically and physiologically from his loss? How will Spence handle the occasion, fighting in front of a lively soccer-style crowd that will be very much against him? How will Spence’s chin hold up in his first meaningful fight, having never faced someone who possesses Brook’s skill, power and will to win as a pro?
Online gambling group bet365.com lists Spence as a 4/7 (-175) favorite while Brook is priced at 6/4 (+150).
RingTV.com polled 27 boxing insiders for their picks:
Kenny Adams, boxing trainer
Errol Spence Jr. KO Kell Brook: I think Spence is one of the upcoming faces of tomorrow. He has height, reach, good jab, good right hand and good hook, boxes well and has great defense. He’s young, too. I think Brook is a pretty good fighter. His eye got messed up (against Gennady Golovkin) but you don’t really know how he will respond until he’s in the ring. Spence wins by late-round KO.
Eric Bottjer, Matchmaker
Errol Spence Jr. PTS 12 Kell Brook: As much as I like Brook and his old-school mentality (not ducking challenges), I think Spence will prove he’s an elite fighter. Spence by decision in a quality, competitive match.
Lucian Bute, former IBF super middleweight champion
Errol Spence Jr. TKO 10 Kell Brook: [It’s] not easy fighting in front of [a] hostile crowd but if he focuses on the task, Spence will come out with the W (TKO) by the 10th. Brook is a great technical and strong fighter but Spence is overall better. Good fight.
Robert Diaz, Golden Boy Matchmaker
Errol Spence Jr. SD 12 Kell Brook: This is a tough one to pick, as I like both guys and have followed both of their careers for a long time. One thing is for sure: There will be a ton of talent in the ring that night. Kell has home-field advantage, and being that it’s the U.K. it is twice the advantage, yet Errol has been waiting for this moment and has the skill to neutralize the home-field advantage. This is a 50/50 fight and I see it being even after six rounds, but the second half will go to the better-prepared, hungrier and better fighter and that fighter will be the new welterweight champion: Errol Spence by split decision.
Cameron Dunkin, boxing manager
Errol Spence Jr. PTS 12 Kell Brook: I like Spence. A lot of people were talking in New York that it’s going to be easy. I don’t think it’s gonna be easy. I think it’s gonna be a hard, hard fight but I think I can see Spence winning a decision or a very late stoppage in 11 or 12. But probably a decision.
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO
Undecided: I think that Spence may be the best young fighter in boxing. So I have to question why his management has rushed him into a fight as tough as this one overseas. While Spence is a terrific young talent, he will be jumping into the deep end of the pool here. Spence will be fighting an experienced and capable opponent in Brook, who will be backed by an entire arena full of motivated and loyal fans. If Spence can pull off a win here, then he truly is the “next big thing.” Brook is quite a big test for Spence. And I have no idea who will win.
Norm Frauenheim, The Ring, www.15rounds.com
Errol Spence Jr. PTS 12 Kell Brook: Best pick is a rematch. Errol Spence and Kell Brook will be close enough to ensure one. Brook has the experience, yet is coming off a punishing TKO loss to Gennady Golovkin. He’s also going down in weight. Meanwhile, Spence has youth and all of the physical advantages that come with it, yet he’s a long way from home for the first time in his pro career against a fighter with power and unquestioned toughness. The guess, a hazardous one, is that Spence scores repeatedly early and relies on younger legs later to carry him to a narrow decision. But if the 27-year-old American loses focus or gets cocky for even a second … boom, Brook will land the shot that ends it all.
Doug Fischer, RingTV.com editor
Kell Brook KO Errol Spence: After the Golokvin fight, I started thinking this is the right time (for Spence) to catch Kell Brook, coming off the brutal knockout loss. He’s having to push his body in another way in getting down to 147 after testing his physiology, allowing him to fight at a more natural weight. So I thought he’ll probably be drained, and there may be some physiological residue from not only losing for the first time but having his face broken. All that made me favor – slightly – the young American.
But as we’ve gotten closer to the fight, I’ve kind of swung back to Brook, thinking he’s got hometown advantage and that he’s going to bring a lot of confidence into the ring as the battle-tested veteran. When I look at Spence’s resume, I don’t see anybody he’s fought that he wasn’t supposed to beat. The same, for the most part, could be said about Brook, but Brook had the gut-check against Carson Jones (first fight). He came back and beat the American gatekeeper (by stoppage) in the rematch. He had his title fight against Shawn Porter and that was a 50/50 fight. Maybe Porter was slightly favored because the fight was in the U.S. He was an underdog and he traveled and fought as the underdog in the other guy‘s country. That shows us his character, and to beat Porter’s not easy – it’s an ugly style, a physical style, a guy who can hit you quite hard, and I thought Brook handled himself well and outclassed Porter with his boxing ability and athleticism. When I look at Spence‘s record, I see he’s been a 10-1 to 20-1 favorite to beat every single guy he’s beat so far.
When I look at the best names on his resume, nobody was able to hit back with a lot of authority, not a single guy. (Leonard) Bundu is not a puncher at all. Chris Algieri is not a puncher. And beyond those two, who do you have? Chris Van Heerden – is that the third-best guy on Spence’s resume? That’s not exactly a murderers row, and I’ve got to wonder what Brook would have done to the same collection of fighters. I think he would run through those guys. When you look at what Spence has done, the hype exceeds his accomplishments. So I sway back to the older guy. I’m going on a hunch and taking the experienced defending champion to win via mid-to-late stoppage.
Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest / TheSweetScience.com
Errol Spence Jr. TKO 5 Kell Brook: This would have been an even, pick ’em type of fight to me if not for the fact that Kell Brook sustained significant damage in his unsuccessful challenge of world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Moving up and down in weight is also a dangerous road to travel. Just ask Roy Jones Jr. Or countless others. American Olympian Errol Spence Jr. must know he needs a knockout to win in the U.K, and with his power and pedigree, I say he gets one in the fifth round after giving Brook a sustained beating to the body. Soon fans will be clamoring for Thurman-Spence, and who can blame them? Welterweight is almost unified.
Brad Goodman, Top Rank matchmaker
Errol Spence Jr. KO Kell Brook: While most people are excited about this fight, I think it’s a cakewalk for Spence. Spence has the tools to be something very special and I believe in this fight he will rise to the occasion and stop Brook in about 3 or 4 rounds. I think it was more of Golovkin having a bad showing than Brook being that good. I give him credit for beating Porter but I doubt he’d beat him in a rematch. I don’t don’t think Spence is the kind of kid that will get rattled by the crowd or be nervous for his title shot. I believe he’ll put it all together and shine on the 27th.
Tom Gray, RingTV.com
Kell Brook SD12 Errol Spence Jr.: I still think that Brook will be a formidable force at 147 pounds, despite the weight loss. I spoke to him nine days out from fight time and he sounded confident, energetic and was only marginally over the welterweight limit. Regardless, I still think he’ll have to work like hell to win this fight. Spence is an exceptional young talent and he is wonderfully athletic. Even though he’s a terrific boxer on the outside, the challenger does most of his damage at mid-range, where he unleashes hooks and uppercuts, up and down, with abandon. Brook is also a quality operator on the outside; his right hand is always on point as a lead or a counterpunch and it’s a terrific weapon. The champion will have to pick his punches very well and make Spence pay when he attempts to close the gap. He also has to make sure that Spence doesn’t get into a rhythm behind that southpaw jab. It’s a hard night’s work but my guess is that Brook’s superior experience and home advantage gets him over the line – just.
Robert Guerrero, welterweight contender
Errol Spence Jr. To beat Kell Brook: I’m picking Spence to win a tough, hard fight against Brook, but he’ll have to go through some trying rounds to get the the victory. Both are highly skilled but Spence comes out victorious.
Ricky Hatton, former two-weight world champion
Kell Brook to beat Errol Spence Jr.: I’ve watched Spence, and whilst he’s good I don’t think he fought anybody as good as Kell. Kell showed in his fight with Golovkin how good he is, because he had Golovkin in all kinds of trouble, and Kell can handle southpaws. Assuming that he’s done the weight right and the move up to middle hasn’t taken anything out of Kell, I see him winning by points or a late stoppage.
Kay Koroma, boxing trainer
Errol Spence Jr. to beat Kell Brook: I feel like it’s gonna be a really, really good tactical battle. I think at the end, Errol will probably pull it off but you can’t take anything away from Kell because Kell’s a great boxer too. I’m just looking for a great fight.
Gary Lockett, boxing trainer
Kell Brook to beat Errol Spence Jr.: Everyone thinks Spence is brilliant. I also think he’s a real talent – great balance, slick southpaw skills and he can whack – but Brook has the experience and has mixed in the higher class. Add to that Spence is a long way from home. And I personally think that Kell will have taken a huge chunk of confidence from the gritty performance against GGG. I’ll be in the minority but I’m going for a Kell win, spurred on by his rapturous home support.
Duke McKenzie, former three-weight world champion
Errol Spence Jr. KO Kell Brook: Brook vs. Spence is going to be a classic. Every now and again someone special comes along, [this time] in the form of Spence. Reminds me of a young Donald Curry, whose technique was superb. Will Brook get drawn into a chess match or a toe-to-toe punching match? In a close fight, Brook wins on points, but I don’t think so. By the halfway stage, Brook will show signs of fatigue. I expect this one to be over inside the distance with Spence being lifted aloft as the new champion.
Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker
Errol Spence Jr. to beat Kell Brook: I think Spence is one of the best up and coming fighters out there right now, but I don’t like the fact that he is going overseas to fight this early in his career, I don’t know him personally, but I can tell you as a young fighter going into someone’s backyard in another country is going to be a lot to handle, with that being said if he passes that test and wins the fight, then he has the mind set to defend that title for a very long time, which is much harder than winning it. By all means Spence should win this fight, but he will need to pass the mental test to make it easy. We will see!
Diego Morilla, The Sweet Science / Zona de Boxeo / Canal de Boxeo / The Prizefighters
Errol Spence Jr. PTS 12 Kell Brook: It’s really hard to overlook the reasons why Brook should really be the favorite here: He’s the local fighter, has experience on his side, needs to prove himself after his disappointment against GGG and more. But it is also hard to deny Spence the chance to score what will hardly be seen as an upset in what could be a graduation night for him. Spence’s last 10 bouts have come against solid contenders and he has looked superb in the entire process. It’s a toss-up and a crossroads bout, and it has the potential to be a great fight, but in the end I believe Spence is in a slightly better position to lift the title and kickstart a potentially extraordinary championship run.
Marty Mulcahey, UCNlive.com
Errol Spence Jr. UD 12 Kell Brook: So many different scenarios could play out. I was an early backer of Kell Brook on the American side of the Atlantic, but find myself leaning towards Errol Spence in this fantastic showdown. While Brook will have the hometown advantage, I have reservations about his returning to 147 pounds after a bad physical beating from Gennady Golovkin without a tune-up bout. Otherwise, this is an even matchup, though Spence has a reach advantage. A small mistake could be the deciding factor. So, I should favor the experience of Brook, but just feel the southpaw stance and reflexes of Spence will be enough to gain the upper hand in a back-and-forth duel where neither establishes dominance. This may be a tepid affair, as both men like to pick their spots and counterpunch. Thus, I favor a quicker Spence in a close bout where the few highlights show off his speed, with every judge within two points on the scorecards.
Scott Quigg, featherweight contender
Undecided: I think it’s a real 50/50 fight. Spence is thought of very highly over in the States, and if he’s what people are saying. Brook’s in for a very tough night. On the other hand, Brook is a special talent too. He’s huge for the weight. And can Spence handle Brook’ power? I think it comes down to how strong Brook is at the weight after boiling down to 147. If Brook is strong and sharp I think it’s a real fight, but if he’s affected by dropping to 147 I think Spence will be too sharp and win a points decision quite comfortably. My prediction is Brook by KO or Spence on points.
John J. Raspanti, Maxboxing.com / Ringside Boxing Show / co-author of “Intimate Warfare”
Errol Spence Jr. TKO 11 Kell Brook: This is a great fight with a few questions. Can welterweight champion Kell Brook, who moved up in weight and lost for the first time nine months ago against Gennady Golovkin, come back to his old division and handle a young talent like Errol Spence? Can Spence, competing for the first time as a professional on a world stage, handle the pressure of the crowd and the hard-punching Brook? I think he can. I see Spence getting off the canvas to stop Brook late in the contest.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Errol Spence Jr. KO Kell Brook: It feels like there might be too much group-think here. Spence hasn’t faced anyone of real impression yet, making this a gamble on what his upside appears to be. Brook is coming back down from middleweight, making welter for the first time in a long time. It’s going to have an affect. Brook should give some early issues but Spence looks like a total talent and one with real firepower. His ability to attack the body will wear on the legs of Brook and send him back up the scale.
Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine editor
Errol Spence Jr. UD 12 Kell Brook: I think the world of Kell Brook, who is a complete, experienced fighter. I don’t think he has the natural gifts of Spence, though. I suspect Spence will outbox Brook and win a unanimous decision.
Ronnie Shields, boxing trainer
Errol Spence Jr. UD 12 Kell Brook: I think it’s gonna be a tough fight for both guys. Kell Brook is a good puncher at 147, and of course Errol Spence is also. I just think Errol Spence’s aggression … he knows how to go to the body and I think he’s going to jump on Kell Brook from the beginning. I think it’s going to be a real close fight but I have to say Errol Spence will probably win just because he’s always in great shape and always ready for anybody. He’s a smart kid too. Not to take anything away from Kell Brook because Kell Brook is a really good fighter also, but when he fought GGG he had the fans and fighting at home isn’t always the best thing, because you have a tendency to fight outside of what you trained for. The fans can hurt you because they want to see you win, but you do things out of character. I think it would be a tougher fight (for Spence) if Brook stayed on the outside and boxed, but I don’t see it. I see him trying to go toe-to-toe with Errol and I feel that’s the wrong fight for him. My prediction is a close unanimous decision for Errol Spence.
Shakur Stevenson, 2016 U.S Olympian and fledgling pro
Errol Spence PTS 12 Kell Brook: I think Spence is going to go to England and beat Kell Brook. I think over 12 rounds, I think it’s going to be a war, because Kell Brook is a great fighter. So I think it’ll be a hard fight but I think Errol’s got it in him. I think Errol’s a special talent.
Dominic Verdin, RingTV.com
Errol Spence Jr TKO 11 Kell Brook: This is by far the most anticipated matchup that could have been put together in the welterweight division. I have gone back and forth with Brook vs. Spence and every time I have a completely different outcome as to who shall be the victor come May 27th in Sheffield, Yorkshire.The real question here is: Can Brook make 147 comfortably after testing the waters at 160 pounds? Will Brook’s experience, toughness and supreme boxing skills be enough to handle the younger, hungrier and in my opinion much more talented fighter in Spence? It’s really a true 50/50 fight between these two in-their-prime welterweights. I can see a late-round knockout for Spence. I can also see a close decision for Brook. It’s really an extremely tough pick here. I’m going with Spence. Trailing behind on the scorecards, his patience and delivery to the body will be a great investment from beginning, resulting in an 11th-round TKO.
Michael Woods, Everlast podcast TALKBOX / publisher, NYFIGHTS.com
Errol Spence Jr. to beat Kell Brook: We want “the truth” when it comes to our supposed stars in the making, don’t we? The hype is enjoyable, we dig the anticipation buzz, the promise of what might be. But there comes a time when the necking session must progress, from point A to point Z, to that decision date, when we see what is real. Consummation time is ached for, and occurs. That happens May 27 in England, for Errol Spence.
Now, it’s not like he doesn’t have good wins tucked into his BoxRec. But Kell Brook is a “been there and done that” dude. Spence beats Brook in conclusive fashion and most anyone sitting out, needing to see more before weighing in on the worth of the Texan, will get off the fence and give him two thumbs up. I think that’ll be the case; I see the handspeed and explosivity of Spence giving Brook his second loss in a row. I think that Spence‘s power could give Brook, who sometimes stays too stiff and tall, fits. because he won’t see something coming, and he’s going to get the chin that Golovkin dented checked and wrecked.
But I’m not that confident. I see Spence a 60-40 favorite. If the Brook who gave Shawn Porter fits shows up, especially defensively, then maybe his experience edge gets him the decision win.
FINAL TALLY: 21–4, with 2 undecided, in favor of Errol Spence Jr. to win Saturday’s much-anticipated welterweight showdown against Kell Brook.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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