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Kell Brook’s bank balance must look infinitely healthier, but how much damage did five bone-crunching rounds with Triple-G do to his chances of owning the Welterweight division?
I fear it did plenty.
It’s said that trainer Dominic Ingle saved his fighter’s career – and possibly eye sight too – when throwing in the towel as Gennady Golovkin was going to town on Brook’s broken face at the O2 Arena.
However, the nature of that punishing loss may still have major repercussions ahead of his clash with Errol Spence Jnr, one of America’s hottest prospects, at Bramall Lane this weekend.
First of all, how is Brook’s eye socket?
Ingle himself admitted that the injuries ‘Special K’ suffered in that fabulous scrap were akin to those suffered by people involved a serious car crash.
If there’s the odd doubt or two, even subconsciously, within the hometown heroes’ mind it may impact negatively on the way he fights. Protecting his eye would leave him vulnerable elsewhere.
And then there’s the weight issue.
Brook pumped himself up with a lot of muscle mass to compete at Middleweight against GGG, and looked fantastic on it.
Many astute judges in the game (and me!) wonder if trimming back down to Welterweight will drain him? Brook has always had to work hard to make the weight, and by shedding muscle aplenty, I worry that he will be low on energy this Saturday.
If he’s not feeling great, Spence Jnr is certainly not the type of guy he would want to be sharing the ring with.
The mandatory IBF challenger is a spiteful puncher
Known for his rib-cracking left hooks to the body. The moment one of those blows lands in Brook’s midriff, we’ll get answers on how the Brit is feeling.
Spence Jnr has a perfect 21-0 record (18 KO’s) and arrives in Sheffield on the back of two magnificent victories.
The 27-year-old dispensed of the durable Leonard Bundu, a man who went the distance with WBA world champion Keith Thurman, inside five rounds. Decking the Italian with a left to the body, ‘The Truth” then knocked him clean out with an upper cut.
Before that he destroyed Chris Algieri (who’d gone 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan) with another sensational 5th round KO.
Tall and reachy, he is a southpaw that plants his feet brilliantly to generate the power shots.
His only obvious frailties are that his defence can occasionally be left open, and that he’s yet to go beyond eight rounds.
While I think Spence Jnr is potentially special, there’s no way we should write Brook off.
In my own pound-for-pound British rankings I’d place him third behind Carl Frampton and Anthony Joshua, because he is a superb boxer.
Quite simplistic in style, the IBF champ is a rapid 1-2 puncher that picks his shots with unerring accuracy. He has the ability to outclass the American challenger, and held his own with GGG at the higher weight.
This is a genuine pick’em 50-50 that could deliver one of the most sensational fights of 2017 providing they both bring their A-game – and I hope that happens.
If it does, I’d not be the least bit surprised to see home hero Kell Brook prevail on points at 33/10.
But for me Spence Jnr is a man on the up, and it will be a huge ask for the current champion to brush him aside, after what he went through against Golovkin.
My hunch though, is that the challenger’s hunger and punch power will catch the Englishman at a time when he’s below his best physically, with the mental scars of that defeat still too fresh.
For me a Spence Jnr win by KO (8/5) is a good bet, with added value gained by calling it between Rounds 1-6 (4/1).
This won’t be the end for Brook, but I regrettably predict heartbreak in Sheffield.