Maybe I was alone in being surprised by how Kell Brook struggled to beat Carson Jones at the weekend.
When I saw a slightly portly looking Sean Bean emerge from a personalised chopper with a bemused Brook in tow, I was as confident as I could be that Sheffied’s brightest prospect since Prince Naseem Hamed discovered pastry and the accelerator on his McLaren- Mercedes would retain his perfect record.
Even when Glenn McCrory tried to suggest that Jones, a man coming into the fight on the back of eight consecutive stoppage wins, would provide a stern test of Brook’s whiskers, I could already imagine the ringside judges awarding the American as many rounds as lineal equations McCrory could have completed after his 1991 knockout at the hands of Lennox Lewis. Not many.
Even so, the manner in which Brook maintained his distance, developed his footwork and fired off combinations through the first five rounds of the fight was impressive- Jones was clearly taken aback- if not physically shaken- and it seemed obvious that the Sheffield-born star was cruising.
Alas, the risk of stepping into this sort of quality company is always that they may not cave in at the first sign of trouble- this was, after all, the test that everyone wanted to see. “Gut check” was muttered more than once inside the Sky commentary box. “This could be a gut-check.”I wasn’t sure for a moment if Jim Watt was going to literally check his guts with a smiling Martine McCutcheon overseeing the process with a bottle of Activia in her hand.
And thank God for Brook’s own digestive health, Jones rallied enough to provide such an examination.
In fact the American was so threatening for four of the last six rounds he was unlucky not to force a stoppage- Brook was on the verge of collapse with 15 seconds on the clock and would surely have hit the canvas had Benny Decroos not stepped in to break the pair up.
And that was that. Yes, the scorecards were closer than expected- one ringside judge awarding Jones a draw (six McCrory lineal equations to you and I) but the fight had been the perfect template for the “gut test” everyone had talked of. Brook had displayed technical flair, discipline and heart to come through a tough test and he could move on with confidence.
Eddie Hearn did not help Brook in a post-fight interview. The affable Matchroom man was quick to play down the chances of making a world title fight for his charge- choosing instead to talk about another world title eliminator in the autumn.
Brook just sat there numbly until promising to “make changes” ahead of his next fight when prompted.
I wanted to grab Kell and ask which specific changes he felt were needed. The judge’s scorecards? Yeah, those were a bit unnecessary- can’t have a prized British prospect losing a round.The 26-year-old’s diet was mentioned as cause for concern but I didn’t see a bag of chips and bag of Revels cloud Brook’s eyes when Jones broke his nose in the eighth round- I just saw a bloody good punch.
Carl Froch has a similar attitude to losing rounds to that displayed by his Matchroom stablemate. If you read the Cobra’s autobiography: The Cobra: My Story you might notice that he NEVER loses a round, well, not in his mind anyway.In fact, in the boxing world this is how it goes at the moment. Preparation is always “perfect” and a fighter is always in the “best shape of my life” until a fight is lost at which point nondescript “problems and injuries” emerge.
Yeah, alright, that all seems a bit old hat by now but everyone must have been annoyed by Manny Pacquiao’s admission that he took Juan Manuel Marquez lightly when preparing for the pair’s third meeting last November having told everyone who would listen prior to the fight that he had trained like a Spartan and was ready to put an old ghost to bed.
Why could he not confess to simply having a bad night? I refuse to believe that after two previous highly controversial fights with the Mexican that he would suddenly decide to take it easy.
Good boxers lose rounds, lose fights- it is how they respond to adversity that defines their worth as fighters.
Perhaps someone should tell Brook that despite the current boxing ‘blame’ culture, struggling in the ring once in a while is not always a bad thing. How’s that for a gut-check?
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