WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford throws hands with former champion Kell Brook this Saturday night.
By John J. Raspanti
Former welterweight champion Kell Brook almost called it a career a few years ago.
Hard to blame him. Brook had lost his title and, for the second consecutive time, sustained a serious injury. His loss to Errol Spence was painful. Brook was fighting in his backyard of Sheffield, England. He did pretty well in the early rounds, but as the fight wore on, Brook wore out.
His corner threw in the towel of surrender after he tasted the canvas for the second time. Later it was revealed that the orbital bone in his left eye had been fractured.
Eight months before he had battled then middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin on even terms for five rounds. One judge had him ahead, but it wasn’t to be. The orbital bone in his right eye was damaged.
Two fights, two losses, two fractures.
“It’s a beautiful sport, boxing, when you’re winning and everything is going well but when you hit the lows it really upsets you,” Brook told Donald McCrae of The Gaudian in 2018.
Walking away from boxing was also on his mind.
“I even contemplated retiring, “said Brook to Luke Brown of www.independent.co.uk. “I was that low but there’s so much left of me and there’s certain performances I need to top and certain fighters I need to fight before I close the book on it.”
Brook, who had captured the IBF welterweight title in 2014 by defeating Shawn Porter, changed his mind when rumblings appeared that a fight with rival Amir Khan was on the horizon. He was excited and ready to go. But the bout never materialized.
Khan challenged WBO welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York. Crawford knocked Khan down in the opening round and stopped him in six. Brook was left outside and looking in. He wanted to fight again.
He did, returning home to Sheffield and winning, against lessor opposition, three bouts in a row. Then something strange happened. An opportunity he didn’t expect. One more chance at glory. Terence Crawford came calling. Same guy who whipped Khan with ease.
“He is one hell of a fighter but a smaller man naturally to me,” Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) told the BBC a few weeks ago. “I’m a dangerous man, a big welterweight and a force to be reckoned with. Everybody has been writing me off. I’m going against everyone. This fight is for me."
Crawford is pretty dangerous himself. Top three pound-for-pound. Undefeated in 36 fights with 27 knockouts. Won his first title in 2014 when he traveled to Glasgow and beat-up Ricky Burns. Crawford defended his newly won title twice, before moving up to junior welterweight and dispatching Thomas Dulorme with ease to win his second title. He added The Ring and WBC belts to his resume when he pounded on Victor Postol for 12 rounds. A third-round blowout of Julius Indongo unified the division.
Two years ago, he moved up to the welterweight division and dominated defending welterweight champion Jeff Horn. No surprise there. Boxing has levels. Three successful defenses have followed, the latest a harder-than-expected ninth round stoppage of game Egidijus Kavaliauskas late last year.
Crawford has fast hands and feet. Much faster than Brook. The Sheffield man might hit a little harder. And he’ll be the bigger man on fight night. Though heavily favored, Crawford isn’t taking anything for granted.
“He has everything to gain and nothing to lose, “said Crawford to Scott Christ of www.badlefthook.com last week. “In those types of moments, it wakes up a different animal and beast in a person. I’m preparing for the best Kell Brook we could possibly prepare for.”
Both are ready. Brook is on the downside of his career. Crawford was unofficially knocked down in his last fight.
A chance is a chance.