Kell Brook: ‘I’m the southpaw-slayer’
When a big fight comes around there are always questions, and Kell Brook defending his IBF welterweight title against unbeaten American Errol Spence Jr. presents more than most.
The pair will collide at Bramall Lane soccer stadium in Sheffield, England, on Saturday, before a crowd of approximately 26,000 people. It is a U.K. pay-per-view event, has been picked up by Showtime in the U.S. and it is the hottest ticket in world boxing this weekend.
Brook, who is rated No. 2 by THE RING at 147 pounds, won the title in August 2014 when he outpointed highly rated brawler Shawn Porter in Carson, California. The Sheffield-born boxer-puncher has made three successful defenses, against “Jo Jo” Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier. Spence, a highly talented and explosive southpaw, looks like none of the above.
“He’s very good at everything he does and there’s nothing I can pull him on,” admitted Brook in an interview with RingTV.com. “I’m up against someone who has similarities to myself. He’s big, he’s a smart fighter, he can punch and he can box. It all comes back to experience and I’ve proven that I have the will to win. This time around he’s in with the champion.
“I’ve been over to California and won the world title. I’ve been through what Errol is going through now but I’ve come through the other side. I’ve been in big fights, big stadium fights, and I know what it takes. I’ve defended the title and I’ve sampled the big fight atmosphere. He still has question marks and we’re going to find out what he’s made of.”
Yes, at this point, you’re either a believer or a non-believer when it comes to Spence. The American’s best victories have arguably come against Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu and, although Spence dazzled in those virtuoso performances, Brook is keen to keep things in perspective. The Sheffield man stated that Algieri “couldn’t threaten Spence with his punch-power” and Bundu was “over the hill.”
But what about Spence’s southpaw style and power? The visitor, who is rated No.7 by THE RING, has won 21 straight, scoring 18 knockouts, and nobody has come close to testing him.
“I’ve been quoted before as saying I’m the southpaw-slayer,” replied Brook confidently. “I can get my shots off and I can get involved with southpaws and figure them out.
“I think this fight will erupt and you can expect anything. You can even expect both of us to be hurt. You can expect both of us to be asked serious questions and I know, from experience, that I can answer those questions. I’ve shown that I can adapt and find a way to win. I’ve never lost at welterweight and I’ve trained hard for this fight.”
And therein lies the next question. In his most recent outing, last September, Brook was transformed into a solid 160-pounder to challenge the most feared middleweight in the world, Gennady Golovkin. Brook had a go but succumbed to the bigger man in five rounds, sustaining a broken orbital bone in the process.
Many expected him to vacate his welterweight title and settle in at junior middleweight. Brook (36-1, 25 knockouts) had struggled to make 147 pounds before his excursion into middleweight territory, so surely his days at welterweight were over? Not according to Brook, who was unwilling to give up what he worked so hard for.
Can the Englishman be as good as he was at welterweight, following a substantial weight-drop, or will the laws of physiology catch up on the 31-year-old?
“At this moment in time, I think it’s been a very good move,” Brook said in earnest. “I didn’t train my whole career to get that world title so that I could give it up. It has been a struggle but we’re going to find out how I can perform at welterweight. I’ll refuel after the weigh-in and get all the rehydration drinks into me.
“I’ll be firing on all cylinders. I’m fighting-fit, ready, sharp and I’ll be able to do this. I might stay at welterweight (after this fight) but it depends how I feel. When I come out of this one, I’d like to sign up for another fight and get back out before the end of the year. I’d like to get another fight arranged when I’m still lean, fit and healthy.”
All the questions are due to be answered. Can Spence kick it at top level? Will Brook’s experience prove decisive? Can Spence take a direct hit? Can Brook still operate effectively at the welterweight limit?
“You’re going to be in a fight and I’m coming,” hissed Brook when asked to deliver Spence a pre-fight message. “I am Sheffield steel and the title will stay in Sheffield.”
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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