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Kell Brook: Contender or Pretender?

Kell Brook: Contender or Pretender?

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For the last 2 years, the boxing community at large has been waiting for Kell Brook to step up to the top tier of international fighting. After a thrilling series of wins that make up his 30-0 undefeated record, the 27 year old fighter from Sheffield’s latest bout was against so-called bogeyman Carson Jones in a rematch of their 2012 fight, which ended in a majority decision in Brook’s favor despite a lackluster performance. His poor display resulted in him having to win a final eliminator before he could fight for the IBF belt, against Hector Saldivia. Brook dominated, and ended it with a brilliantly timed, piercing jab, ending it in the third.

Brook was then scheduled to fight Devon Alexander, who defeated then-IBF champion Randell Bailey on the same night in a boring one-sided affair. Frankly, if the fight wasn't on such an exceptional card I would have asked for my money back. Not so long after the fight was announced, Brook was forced to pull out of the fight with an ankle injury. It was re-arranged for the 23rd of February. In a stroke of terrible fortune, Brook re-injured his ankle and the fight was dismissed completely to the dismay of the excited fans who’d already paid for their hotels and flights. Brook’s replacement was fellow Brit Lee Purdy, who only got a shot at the belt because the other top contenders were unavailable or injured. Brook said about whether or not he’d watched that fight, “I couldn't do it. I’d have felt physically sick watching somebody else get my opportunity.”

Since his injury, Brook has bounced back with another win over Carson Jones, forcing a technical knockout in the 8th after a relentless display of aggressive boxing.  He has now set his sights on Ukrainian fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko, in his home town of Sheffield. Many people, including myself, have questioned the validity of Senchenko’s status as a contender, despite being a former world champion: other than Ricky Hatton, he never defeated anyone of prestige during his career. Even when he defeated the Hitman, it was after taking a viscous beating before Hatton gassed.

Brook has received many accolades and general praise during his career, being  voted Young Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writer’s club. As of now he is ranked 5th welterweight in the world by Ring Magazine, but is ranked number 1 in Britain. He entertains a fierce personal rivalry with Amir Khan, after Khan claimed to have “schooled” Brook in a spar when they were younger. This conflict has proven to be deeply personal, with Brook expressing a desire to “knock Amir Khan’s chin off him.” Throughout his career, Brook has trained in the world renowned Ingles gym, the home of champions Johnny Nelson and Naseem Hamed, giving him a strong base of cardiovascular training and the technical aspects of boxing.

It could be said that the only thing that has prevented "Special K" from establishing himself as one of the world’s very best is a string of lamentable injuries, which does not detract from his skill as a boxer. Despite the general consensus that he could not compete at a world level, I firmly believe that given the chance he would prove the doubters wrong with emphatic relish.

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