U.K. Saturday Notebook: The Tartan Tornado and Special K Win With Pizzazz

Two significant fights in the U.K. served as appetizers to tonight’s “doubleheader” in the Big Apple. At Glasgow, fast rising junior welterweight Josh Taylor kept his unbeaten record intact and moved closer to a world title shot with a dominant showing against Nicaragua’s Winston Campos. Meanwhile, over in Sheffield, England, former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook was no less impressive. “Special K” got his career back on track at the expense of overmatched Minsk invader Siarhei Rabchanka.

Taylor, the “Tartan Tornado” from Edinburgh, was making his first start at the SSE Hydro Arena since winning gold here at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He was scheduled to fight Humberto Soto, a former world titlist in two weight classes, but Soto suffered a nasty cut in sparring and was forced to pull out. As late subs go, Campos (30-4-5) was more than credible, at least on paper. He came in with a 14-fight unbeaten streak.

In a battle of southpaws, it was all Taylor who dominated from the get-go. He had Campos on the mat twice in the second round and ended matters with a third knockdown in the third.

Promoted by Barry McGuigan and trained by Shane McGuigan, Taylor (12-0, 11 KOs) competes in a division that is overflowing with young talent. Potential opponents as he moves forward include Regis Prograis, Jose Carlos Ramirez, Ivan Baranchyk, Alex Saucedo, and perhaps Mikey Garcia. Based on today’s performance, he just may be the best of the lot (excluding Garcia).

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SHEFFIELD — Kell Brook, who opened his career with 36 straight wins was coming off back-to-back losses by stoppage vs. Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. Those were brutal skirmishes, the kind that shorten a boxer’s career. Brook suffered fractured orbital bones in both contests, first the right eye and then the left.

Brook weighed 159 1/2 pounds for Triple-G; 13 pounds more than he weighed for Spence. For this bout, he came in at 153 1/4 which is closer to his optimal weight. In Siarhei Rabchanka (aka Sergey Rabchenko), he was meeting a fighter who was 29-2 but hadn’t conquered anyone of note.

Born and bred in Sheffield, Special K made quick work of the Belarusian, delighting his hometown fans. It was all over in the second round when Brook decked his opponent with a harsh combination. Rabchanka made it to his feet but was in no condition to continue and the fight was waived off.

Despite his strong performance (“he’s back!” shouted the tabloids), Brook seems to understand that he’s not all that special anymore. He’s eyeing one final big payday, ideally against countryman Amir Khan but Jermell Charlo may get to Brook first.

The chief undercard bout, a 12-round affair in the super bantamweight division, pitted the younger brothers of two reigning world titlists. In a mild upset, Gavin McDonnell (19-1-2) took control in the second half of the fight and won a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Gamal Yafai who slipped to 14-1. The scores were 116-112 twice and 117-113.

Also, Rocky Fielding, whose lone setback came in an all-Scouser clash with Callum Smith, advanced to 26-1 with an 8-round decision over Czechoslovakia’s Karel Horejsek (11-8-1). Fielding’s promoter Eddie Hearn is reportedly trying to match Fielding with WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez. (Hearn and Ramirez’s promoter Bob Arum are co-promoting a show next week in Los Angeles.)

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