As Kell Brook prepares to return on Saturday, Danny Flexen identifies his best nights at the office
It’s been a long wait for former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook to return to the ring. He laboured to a clear decision win over Michael Zerafa 14 months ago and many are now questioning if the Sheffield man can still get the job done at the highest level.
As he prepares to come back against Mark DeLuca this Saturday in his hometown, we remind you of his three finest performances, in chronological order.
1. W rsf 1 Kevin McIntyre, Nov 2008, Glasgow
While Brook was favoured to beat the sturdy Scot, some observers afforded a good chance to the former British champion, who was trying to regain a Lonsdale Belt he never lost in the ring. Brook had captured the vacant welterweight title against Barrie Jones and looked superb in picking the tall Welshman apart. McIntyre had won four straight, including a brace of impressive triumphs over touted compatriot Kevin Anderson, but an ailing back had sidelined him for over eight months. Brook never let McIntyre ease his way back to competition at the famous Kelvin Hall. Displaying the exemplary accuracy and timing that would become his trademarks, Brook smashes McIntyre to the canvas three times and stopped him, in Scotland, in just two minutes.
2. W rsf 8 Carson Jones, July 2013, Hull
This one is as much about context as in-ring excellence. Just a year, or two fights, previously, Brook had struggled to a majority decision over the strong American, fading badly in the 12-rounder’s second half and taking a beating at times. This raised questions regarding Kell’s defence and conditions. The rematch, scheduled for 10 and at a catchweight of 152lbs (promoter Eddie Hearn requesting this after a foot injury hampered the Brit early in camp), proved an entirely different story. Going back in against his toughest opponent to date, Brook took control from the off at Craven Park, dropping Jones in the second and nearly ending matters in the third. Dictating behind a pounding jab, Brook withstood a mini-rally to reassert his dominance, flooring Jones again in round eight and forcing the finish.
3. W pts 12 Shawn Porter, August 2014, Carson, California
I gave due consideration to Brook’s valiant losing effort against Errol Spence and his explosive official super-welter debut versus Siarhei Rabchanka. However, while his close win over Porter was a hard watch, the quality of opponent, the high stakes and the hostile location combine to make it Kell’s finest hour. The American, a quality amateur, boasted home advantage at the StubHub Center in a battle of unbeatens and had just bulldozed a still-decent Paulie Malignaggi after decisioning Devon Alexander. The challenger had never fought opposition of a similar level but if overawed by the leap or venue, Brook never showed it. In a scrappy affair, replete with head clashes, Brook used his intelligence to land the cleaner shots, for the most part and, crucially, negate the Ohio man up close. He took a gruelling but ultimately deserved majority verdict.