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Kell Brook: Ready for the big time

With the possible exception of Amir Khan, Kell Brook is the most talented fighter of his generation in Britain and now, after 27 fights and 27 wins, he is ready to prove himself on the world stage.

On Saturday night (17th March), the 25 year old welterweight from Sheffield faced what was supposed to be the toughest fight of his career when he took on Manchester’s Matthew Hatton in a fight dubbed ‘The War of the Roses.’ Hatton was coming off a recent valiant showing against WBC light-middleweight champion and rising superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, in which he took the much bigger Mexican the distance. Brook has looked highly impressive in his seven-and-a-half year career, but has not been extended. The thinking behind a matchup with Ricky Hatton’s younger brother was that he would provide the Sheffield man with a stern test and give him chance to show how he can perform when he does not have things all his own way.

This test did not materialise as Brook put on a clinic, dominating Hatton from the first bell to the last. Alvarez has earned rave reviews on the other side of the Atlantic, but the man dubbed ‘Special K’ looked even more impressive and beat Hatton even more convincingly than the Mexican did. The 25 year old utilised his trademark ramrod job to dictate the pace of the fight, keep his more experienced opponent at bay and set up hurtful right hands. Brook simply looked a class above on Saturday night and gave a clear indication that he is operating at a level way above domestic. Now is the time for Brook to be let loose on the division’s elite.

Being a product of Sheffield’s famous Wincobank gym, comparisons with Prince Naseem Hamed are inevitable, but Brook is a very different fighter. He does however have the necessary tools to emulate Naz’s success in the ring. Whilst 18 knockouts in 27 wins shows that Brook can punch, he does not possess the stunning one-punch knockout power that Naseem had and he is nowhere near as arrogant as Hamed. The quick reflexes, however, are there and if anything, Brook is technically superior. He has a exemplary jab that allows him to control fights and he delivers his punches correctly, punching through the target. He times his punches impeccably, particularly when fighting on the back foot and his hand speed is impressive. If there is a criticism, it is that he is open to the overhand right and although he has shown a good set of whiskers to this point, it is something he will want to eradicate as he moves in to a higher class of opposition. It could perhaps also be said that he is sometimes a little one-paced, as was seen against Hatton. It appeared that Brook could have finished the fight within the distance, particularly after flooring the Manchester man in the ninth round but he did not manage to do so. At the highest level, such chances need to be ruthlessly ceased upon.

Kell Brook impressed against Matthew Hatton on Saturday night (This image is the property of Lawrence Lustig)

Brook undoubtedly has the talent and desire to go all the way to the very top and there are currently few better divisions to inhabit than welterweight. The division contains Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz and Mike Jones, all of whom have top ten rankings. This means there are plenty of money-spinning and career-defining fights for the Sheffield youngster and whilst he may not yet be ready for Pacquiao or Mayweather, he would stand a very good chance against any one of Berto, Ortiz or Jones. All are aggressive fighters and Brook’s supreme counterpunching ability and perfect timing would leave him well placed to come out on top.

Whether such a fight will come to pass remains to be seen. Jones has a fight with Randall Bailey scheduled for 9th June, whilst Berto and Ortiz face off in a rematch on 23rd June. A fight against Jones (should he come through) or the winner of the latter fight would propel Brook in to boxing’s elite. Jones represents the best option for Brook as he provides a fan-friendly style. His over-zealous attacks leave him open to counter punches and his eagerness to throw punches can lead to him flagging as fights continue beyond the opening rounds. In short, Brook is well equipped to beat the American in an entertaining fight, something which could help make him a star on both sides of the Atlantic.

Brook himself realises that he is now ready to step up to world level and has repeatedly called out fellow Brit Amir Khan. With Khan slated to rematch Lamont Peterson in May, this may have to wait, but the 25 year old from Sheffield is making all the right noises. Frustrated at what he perceived to be a lack of progress, he left Frank Warren’s promotional stable in 2011 and signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport. Hearn has promised to make Brook a global star. Let’s hope he lives up to his promise because at 25, Brook is reaching his physical peak and is now ready to become the latest in a long line of British world champions.

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