The trend is not your friend if you are Kell Brook, who has jetted over from merry old England to show off his stuff Saturday next against Shawn Porter, who last year leapt up the ladder from ESPN perennial to full-fledged main evener.
Brian Rose. Tony Bellew. Lee Purdy. Gavin Rees. Came to America, full of brio and promises that this time, the Brit would do it, would upset the favored American.
Each time, the result was the same. Back to Britain with an L tacked on to their resume.
No one here is saying that Brit boxers are inferior as a lot, or that there is any sort of locked in routine which will once again play out at StubHub Center, and on Showtime Saturday night, when Porter puts his IBF welter crown up for grabs. But that trend…
Could Brook, a 28-year-old from Sheffield (Naseem Hamed's old stomping grounds) who owns a 32-0 record but one a bit more debatable than Porter's, as the 24-0-1 Ohioan owns wins over Paul Malignaggi, Devon Alexander and Julio Diaz, three pugilists of tougher grade than anyone Brook has downed. Or maybe not…Vyacheslav Senchenko isn't a bum, and neither is Carson Jones, an American who Brook has beaten by majority decision (in 2012) and then TKO8, in 2013. Brook last gloved up in March, and took out 17-2 Al Robles in Liverpool.
Brook has said that he got interested in fighting from watching karate flicks. He took up boxing at age nine, and knew that was his path. "Porter is a tough fighter, but he's in with me, he's going to know I'm special," said Brook, promising that IBF belt will be coming back to Sheffield. Some of have noted that in the leadup, Porter hasn't given off the same aura of confidence the man nicknamed "The Special One" has. I'm not sure that indicates much of anything, and in fact, might be a detriment to Brook's chances. Porter is a humble sort, quick to mention his faith, while Brook is an advertiser who talks up his skills. Me, I usually go for the more humble hitter, knowing that sometimes peoples' self hype is there to bolster their own insecure psyche. The stakes are immense; if he wins, we can see Brook having something Amir Khan, for one, would love. That belt, and we make fun of them in this diluted era, certainly is an attractive lure to fighters, who can leverage the bauble. Also, Juan Manuel Marquez has expressed interest in getting the winner. But let's not get ahead of ourselves…
If the Porter who imposed his will and low center of gravity on both Alexander and Malignaggi, darn fine boxers, I see Brook getting broken down. He will have a length advantage, but if the 26-year-old Porter can claw his way inside on the Brit, that becomes moot. When things are going his way, Brook dictates the space between him and his foes. His hands aren't lightning, but he's quick enough to land first often, and counter pretty well. His agility is fine, though the brand of pressure Porter can exert is more than Brook has seen, arguably. Brook's defensive reflexes aren't special, so we can expect him to need to shake off Porter's power along the way. Porter will need to be aware of the solid but basic one-two that Brook has command of. A left hook is in the arsenal but isn't a game changer, Porter should know. A lead-hand uppercut has worked against some foes, but against the pressurizing Porter, I'm dubious…Porter has the instinct of a pit bull oftentimes, and I can see him taking a chomp out of Brooks' hide. His punches in bunches, delivered right up in Brooks' grill, will be bothersome, I believe. Porter is a more fervent investor than Brook, in that his punches are usually delivered with more ferocious intent. I expect that to be the case on Saturday and for Brook to taste his first L. The trend will likely not turn out to be the friend of Kell Brook, in my mind.
He, of course, disagrees. Before the weigh in, Brook in a phoner, told me that he is indeed "The Special One," a nickname bestowed upon him by promoter Barry Hearn. He knows that many fight fans lump all the Brits in together, but declares that he isn't of the same ilk as the guys who have come over and lost. "I'm a one off," he said, and not cut from the same cloth as the Rose's, etc., he maintained. The boxer kindly informed me that he has a toddler, a girl 2 1/2, and one child due in January, when I told him he shouldn't please hold it against me if he heard cartoons in the background, because I'm with the 4-year-old, working from home today. Yes, he was pleasant, but Brook sounded ready to rumble. "I'm going for the knockout," he said, while admitting Porter is likely the best fighter he's scrapped with, and that he will need to try and control the pace, but will likely have to adjust some, to Porter's high volume and pressure.
What say you, faithful readers?