There comes a time in every young fighter’s career when he must face another young, ambitious up-and-comer like himself in order to prove himself in the eyes of the public at large. For the unbeaten British contender Kell Brook that challenge comes in the form of Carson Jones.
Jones, a native of Oklahoma City, Okla., doesn’t have the pristine record mark that Brook (27-0, 18 knockouts) has. His toughness and determination is evident merely by the fact that he has made it to this point, where he will challenge Brook this Saturday for the IBF’s number two ranking at welterweight in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England at the Motorpoint Arena.
So when the self-assured Brook took to the airwaves on Britain’s Sky Sports network last month and called Jones a quitter, the American contender took particular exception.
“That’s probably the most absurd thing that you could say about me,” said Jones (34-8-2, 24 KOs), who like Brook, weighed in just under the limit of 147 pounds on Friday afternoon. “There’s no quit in me nor has there ever been. I have 8 losses. If I was a quitter do you think I’d still be in the sport? So my thoughts are that he’s a little nervous and scared if you will, and he’s not so much trying to hype the fight but hype himself.”
Jones, 25, is a year younger than Brook but has taken the long way around to get to this juncture. Having turned pro at 18 years of age without a big time manager or promoter after a brief amateur career of 30 fights, which was highlighted by losing to amateur powerhouse Danny Jacobs in the 2004 Ringside World Championships in his final unpaid bout, Jones was essentially thrown to the wolves early on as he learned his craft through a baptism of fire.
Jones managed to remain unbeaten through his first eight bouts before losing a decision to Favio Medina in 2005, a rematch of their draw earlier in the year. Jones would lose by technical knockout to Luciano Perez just four months later, and all hope seemed to seep out of his career.
“I was young and ignorant of the business,” said Jones, who acknowledges that he took fights on short notice and in his opponent’s hometowns that didn’t make sense from a long-term business perspective.
The growing pains didn’t end there, as Jones endured a stretch from 2006-2008 where he lost four out of five fights to such fringe contenders as Alfonso Gomez and Freddy Hernandez.
However, since then, Jones has lost just two out of his last 25 bouts, the last 8 of which have been won by knockout.
Brook, on the other hand, has nary lost a round in his promising career, which is guided by prominent British promoter Matchroom Boxing. Brook has fought and defeated tough competition in Europe, including former world title challengers Matthew Hatton, Rafal Jackiewicz, Michael Jennings and Lovemore N’Dou. Yet even Brook admits that this figures to be his toughest challenge to date.
“I think he’s my toughest test but I’ve trained hard and I’m ready for this,” Brook told SkySports.
Jones is equally confident, having spent the last several years training in the California mountains of Big Bear alongside WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (with whom he shares trainer Abel Sanchez) and junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
When asked what he thought of Brook as a fighter, Jones was dismissive.
“He’s OK,” said Jones of Brook. “I don’t think he has the heart and the mental toughness that it takes or that I have. He hasn’t gone through what I have gone through in my career; he’s never had to dig deep in a fight. He won’t be able to deal with my ruthlessness.”
Just looking at their records on paper, the fight seems to be a mismatch. That has proven to be one of Jones’ greatest assets, however.
“I really think he has no idea what he’s in for,” said Jones.
Photo / Al Bello-Getty Images
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.