Danny Flexen analyses a likely showdown between Kell Brook and Liam Smith for later this year
The Sky/Matchroom marketing machine did not even wait until the end of Kell Brook vs Mark DeLuca to start beating the drum for the resurgent Sheffield man’s next fight. Ringsider Liam Smith, who will likely meet Brook next, was solicited for his opinion mid-contest and also asked about his own desire to face the “Special One”. Once Brook had completed the formalities, DeLuca being rescued in round seven after a mostly impressive performance, promoter Eddie Hearn elaborated, declaring that “Beefy” was the front-runner for Kell’s subsequent bout and that he hoped to make it a WBO final eliminator at super-welter. This would be a hugely intriguing 50-50 showdown, and we picked out three key advantages for each man.
Kell Brook advantages
He wasn’t the quickest down at 147lbs, but up a division Brook’s speed will prove more telling and he looked markedly faster, both of hand and foot, than DeLuca. Smith is no slow coach himself but Brook does appear to possess the edge in speed.
Brook employs a wider array of shots and is far from predictable. Style-wise a front-foot counter-puncher, Kell can switch to southpaw when he deems it sensible, although changes stance far less often than some of his Ingle Gym stablemates. His straight shots are potent, but the uppercuts can unlock cagey defences, while he finished DeLuca with an unorthodox short left hook.
Quality of opposition
It’s been some time since Brook faced elite opposition but his roster of adversaries edges Smith’s, who has of course met Canelo Alvarez and world-class but not elite Jamie Munguia. Brook has defeated Shawn Porter and lost, bravely, to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence.
Liam Smith advantages
In the 14 months Brook sat on the shelf between labouring past Michael Zerafa and coming back against DeLuca, Smith triumphed three times, completing 20 rounds against decent opposition. His trio of bouts took place in three different countries, adding valuable experience as well as numbers to the win column.
Size and strength
Liam is only a half-inch taller but has long arms and, crucially, is a career super-welter. He may be outgunned or outboxed, but rarely gets outmuscled. As sharp and explosive as Brook appeared against DeLuca, he did not look like a big 154lber. He may be in that difficult middle ground between an inability to make welter safely and shaping up as the smaller man versus super-welters.
Brook may boast the greater variety but he has been known to neglect the body. Smith can never be accuses of this, his straight shots and hooks to the torso form a vital part of his arsenal. Against the older man moving up in weight, this could prove particularly useful.