Brook overcomes toughest obstacle against Jones

By: Danny Richardson

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On Saturday night, Sheffield star Kell ‘The Special One’ Brook came through the toughest test of his career, just, against the tough Carson Jones at the Motorpoint Arena. Brook, now unbeaten in 28 contests, dazzled for the first 6 rounds, only to be dragged into a dog fight at the mid way stage. Fighting with the hindrance of a broken nose, a worn out Brook came through with a majority decision verdict, the judges’ scorecards reading 114-114, 116-113 and 115-113 in favour of the Yorkshire man. A very close fight, Brook did enough to win on the night, answering a lot of questions in the process – as well as leaving some unanswered. But, the learning curve will undoubtedly do him the world of good.

The atmosphere inside the Motorpoint Arena, which I was lucky enough to witness, was again electric. Roared on by his fans, including myself, Brook started extremely well against Jones, who had no answer for the speed, classiness and reflexes of the talented Sheffield man. Brook boxed beautifully behind the jab, putting together classy shots in what was turning out to be a punch perfect performance. Jones continually came forward, but couldn’t catch the elusive Brook, who was showing the world what he has in his locker. After the first five rounds, I had Brook winning every round and firmly in control.

However, even though he won the round, there were signs in the sixth that the tide was turning. Brook couldn’t keep Jones off of him, who kept marching forward. Watching from the edge of my seat, I could see that on the inside, Jones seemed the stronger of the two as the fight went on, he seemed to be able to manhandle Brook, who found himself slipping to the canvas on a couple of occasions. There were signs that even though Brook was firmly on top, Jones would have his moments. A barrage of shots to the body from the American seemed to slow Brook down, who lost some of his elusiveness. That was the invitation Jones needed.

Slowing down considerably, Brook couldn’t keep the American at bay, and although Brook landed some classy shots, Jones started to land some big shots of his own – breaking Brook’s nose in the process. With his nose bleeding heavily, an already weary Brook began to swallow blood, and slowed down further. Alarm bells started ringing.

But – Brook showed his Sheffield steel. Now fighting southpaw, Brook confused Jones with the right hand, keeping his opponent at bay again. Brook once again looked in control – until Jones mounted another attack. Brook took some big shots from the 7th round onwards, leaving staggering around the ring at times. My heart was in my mouth, along with all Brook’s fans inside the arena and at home. But somehow, showing his toughness and proving he has a granite chin, Brook stayed on his feet, even claiming the 10th round which was one of the rounds of the year.

He very nearly went in the final round though – after Jones went looking for the knockout, landing some big left and right hooks in the last minute of the fight. But, Brook stayed upright to the final bell – showing his metal and more importantly, his heart. After what turned out to be an all out war, the Sheffield man had his hand raised at the end of the night, claiming a well earned victory.

Let’s just get one thing straight – Brook definitely answered some questions on Saturday. Since the fight, I’ve seen some absolutely ridiculous coverage on certain websites, who have done nothing but slaughter Brook for his performance. All of Brook’s haters have jumped on the back of the ‘Special One’, criticising him from all angles, giving him no credit at all. But there were some positives to take from Saturday.

For one, Brook came through his first real test as a professional. It may not have been in the way he wanted to come through, but the fact of the matter is, he fought an opponent rated higher than him, and beat him by 2 rounds on my scorecard. Yes, there were times when Brook got caught, there were times when he didn’t look like a world class fighter, but there were more times when he did, especially for the first 6 rounds, when he completely out boxed Jones. If he could have gone 12 rounds like that, he would have claimed an easy win.

Also, Brook answered the questions that have plagued him so far in his career. He proved that he has a heart; he proved he could have a war and come through the other side, and he proved he has a solid chin. Remember, Jones had bombed out unbeaten fighters in the past, and competed and knocked opponents out at light middleweight. Granted, these opponents may not have been Brook’s calibre, but you still have to knock someone out, it’s not an easy task. Brook showed he can take big shots, and come back from adversity. A lot of fighters would have quit in Brook’s position on Saturday, but he dug deep, and he will undoubtedly come back stronger.

But I’m not an idiot – there were negatives. From a fitness point of view, Brook tired far too early and it could have proved his downfall. Thankfully, it didn’t, which again shows his metal, but the fact of the matter is, if he’d have been able to go 12 rounds with ease, he wouldn’t have been involved in an all out war against Jones. But, he was, and that needs looking at. Obviously, having a broken nose and swallowing a massive amount of blood can’t help – and that would have had some part to play in why Brook tired so quickly. But, something needs to be looked at in terms of conditioning and preparation.

After the fight, Brook and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, admitted that corners may have been cut in training camp, and that Brook had a problem making the welterweight limit, with Johnny Nelson in the studio after the fight suggesting Brook may have had a weekend off from training. I’m no expert, but the right conditioning and taking the weight off slowly is a must for any fighter, it has a massive affect on your body and your fitness.

Thankfully, that can be fixed though. With the right conditioning coach, making the weight can become second nature. At least Brook admitted his problems after the fight, which means any issue he has will be sorted and a top professional will be introduced into Brook’s training camp. After all, it has helped fighters such as David Haye and Amir Khan in the past, so why can’t it help Brook? With the right people in place, Brook can become a phenomenal fighter. It’s not like he has an issue that can’t be fixed, such as a bad chin like other well known fighters.

The accusation that Brook struggled with Jones, therefore has found his level, I don’t agree with. Every fighter has a fight which tests them physically and mentally, and they come back better and stronger for it. Amir Khan was bombed out by Breidis Prescott, Ricky Hatton struggled with Luis Collazo, even Floyd Mayweather has had close verdicts against Jose Luis Castillo and Oscar De La Hoya. I know all these three examples were at different levels, but particularly in the case of Amir Khan, these fighters have come back stronger – and so will Brook.

There will also be questions regarding Brook’s trainer in Dominic Ingle – and I’m not even going to rant about the suggestion that he should leave the Ingle gym. All I’ll say is, the Ingle’s breed champions, and Brook will be the next champion produced from their stable. He should stay where he is.

Yes there were negatives from Saturday, but I firmly believe that Brook will learn from the fight and come back stronger. He isn’t at that top level yet, which is why another fight or two will benefit him. Saturday was never really an IBF title eliminator; because it seems that the holder of the title, Randall Bailey, will face Devon Alexander in August. The winner of that fight will face Brook early next year presumably, should Brook come through the tough Argentinean Hector Saldivia, in a fight which will leave the winner in a mandatory position. A fight against Saldivia is probably the best option, and look out for that around October time.

I am a massive fan of Brook, and I’ve looked at the positives from Saturday, and there were plenty to choose from. Brook proved a lot of things, particularly his heart and chin, and that will leave him in good stead. It’s good that this test has come before he goes into a world title fight, because he knows he can go to a dark place and come back fighting – he knows what he’s got inside him and he will go there again in his career. He may not have looked special on the night, but the ‘Special One’ will be back stronger than ever next time out, and I can’t wait to see him back in action.

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