“I am in that elite category, the highest in boxing. I want to be in a 12 round fight, in a sell-out arena, with me topping the bill.” So insists Kell Brook, who is looking to step into the ring again before the end of 2017 and resume his boxing career. There was a time when this would have been undeniable. This time last year, Brook was on top of the welterweight world; he was undefeated, he was IBF champion, and probably featured on most people’s pound-for-pound lists. Not only that, he was preparing to do the unthinkable and jump up two weight classes to face fearsome middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in a move of outlandish bravery.
We all know the subsequent history; Golovkin dismissed him in 5 rounds, breaking his eye socket in the process. Beaten but undeterred, Brook then moved back down to welterweight to defend his IBF belt against mandatory challenger Errol Spence, who broke his other eye socket and stopped him in the 11th round after a thrilling back and forth affair became gradually more one sided.
These back-to-back losses have had varying degrees of impact on Brook’s legacy, depending on who you ask. Typically, there are some who dismiss the Sheffield native as yesterday’s news, as a fighter who believed too much in himself and was found wanting at the hands of better, more destructive opponents. Whilst this is probably harsh on him, it seems hard to deny his stock hasn’t fallen to some extent. He is still comfortably one of the top 10 welterweights in the world, as well as the British top 10 pound-for-pound fighters. Where he fits among them, however, is now unclear. Somewhat clearer are his options, and I go through the top 5 below.
Although now lower on everyone’s lists of must-see fights (especially as most boxing media is currently engulfed by the build-ups to the Golovkin – Canelo superfight and the Mayweather – McGregor superfarce), a meeting with Amir Khan will still prove appealing. They have each expressed a desire to fight again before the end of the year in bids to move on from unsavoury episodes (Khan from a messy divorce, Brook from a drunken arrest). With both around the 30-year-old mark and coming off bad losses, the iron will surely cool the longer they postpone one of the last remaining all British Pay-Per-View clashes; the sooner they get something on paper, the better it will be for the pair of them.
An all British showdown with Sam Eggington could fill a local arena, or would be a fantastic supporting bout on Anthony Joshua’s next Box Office event. Having a common opponent in Frankie Gavin (who they both knocked out) offers an interesting insight into the chances of both in a fight where their two styles are sure to mix well. Eggington is superbly tough, has a high work rate, and is developing real punch power as he enters his adult years. By halting his march to ascendancy, Brook would take Eggington’s recent progress and claim it as his own, as well as re-affirming his position as Britain’s best current welterweight at the same time. Both are a real test for each other.
The one Kell wants. Having not fought since being beaten by Saul Alvarez in Novermber 2015, most reports indicate Cotto wants one more ‘swansong’ fight after he faces Yoshihiro Kamegai for the WBO super-welterweight title later this month before calling time on a wonderful career. The Puerto-Rican has stated he will finish fighting this year, but would extend it to 2018 “if the right fight comes along.” Provided he beats Kamegai and demonstrates he hasn’t declined too much during the layoff, a meeting with Brook will gain considerable interest from both sides of the Atlantic and would be a worthy introduction to the 154lbs division, a move Brook has been considering.
Back down at 147lbs, Danny Garcia is another logical opponent. Like Brook, he is also coming off his first welterweight defeat, in which a world title was taken from him. The Philadelphia native is certainly dangerous, and his left hook is a weapon to be wary of. Rumours indicate that Errol Spence is eyeing him up as a first defence of the IBF title he won from Brook last time out but, should that fail to materialise, fighting the Brit in America would be a worthy consolation match, and would throw the winner back into immediate title contention – where they both want and deserve to be. Garcia’s form can vary, and he has a patchy record against lower opposition. But wins over Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson, Robert Guerrero and Lucas Martin Matthyssee prove his his ability to perform against the division’s big names, and if that version of Garcia turns up, Brook would need to be at his best to come home as the winner.
Liam Smith / Liam Williams
Another all British showdown that would really, really catch fire. The two Liams’ April thriller was ended early, when Williams received a terrible cut to his right eyelid and was stopped by the referee. The rematch has been set for October, and whoever wins it will be firmly in Brook’s sights if he moves up in weight. The man who emerges victorious will without question be the British number 1 at light-middleweight, a position that Brook is more than capable of contesting. The match would have to take place at the beginning of next year, however, which might be a little too late for Brook’s schedule, but if it gets made nonetheless, it could be huge.