British welterweight Kell Brook was due a serious change of fortune after injury derailed three world title opportunities against then-IBF beltholder Devon Alexander. On Aug. 9, the sharp boxer-puncher from Sheffield, England, meets Alexander’s successor, Shawn Porter, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and is very confident of making up for lost time.
“I’m excited because the fight has been confirmed and there’s no escaping the net,” said Brook (32-0, 22 knockouts). “I’m in great shape, looking forward to the task ahead, and I’ll be ready to take this IBF title from Porter. The delays and setbacks have only made me stronger and, at 28 years old, I believe I’m in my prime.”
Brook, THE RING’s No. 5-rated rated welterweight, has travelled to the U.S. once before, and promises that the Brooklyn location will have no bearing on his performance, or the result itself. Admittedly the magnitude of the event is unlike anything the challenger has faced, but he is taking on the visitor role with confidence.
“I fought in a support bout against Luis Galarza, when Carl Froch faced Andre Ward in the Super Six final, in 2011,” Brook said. “It was great to be showcased on such an amazing card and I gained quality experience but, even though travelling was new to me, there were no nerves whatsoever, and I felt very comfortable over there.
“It’s just me, my opponent and a boxing ring, so it doesn’t matter where it is. I’m only focused on getting the work done.”
The Sheffield ace did come under harsh criticism when a bout against Alexander failed to materialize. A percentage of fickle followers of the sweet science used the postponements, and eventual cancellation, to label Brook as a coward, but he has fought his way back into title contention and been very active in recent months.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Brook, after a long pause. “I was in unbelievable condition for Alexander, but it just wasn’t my time. Since my foot injury heeled I’ve stayed busy and scored a good win over a former world champion in Vyacheslav Senchenko. Generally, I’ve performed extremely well in recent fights, and I feel great.
“My time is now.”
There is little doubt that Brook needs the performance of a lifetime if he is to prevail in New York. Porter, THE RING’s No. 4-rated welterweight, as well as unbeaten countryman Keith Thurman are widely regarded as the leading lights for an inevitable welterweight renovation. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao can’t last forever, but Brook is keen to keep his opponent’s formidable attributes in perspective.
“Porter is physically strong and extremely fit,” said Brook. “I do respect him because he’s a genuine world champion who handled Devon Alexander, destroyed Paulie Malignaggi, and fought his way into this position. With that that said his boxing skills aren’t the best. They’re not the worst, but they’re certainly not the best.
“The result against Paulie surprised me initially, but you have to question what he had left. Malignaggi has been in this game a long time and Porter, as a genuine 147 pounder, simply walked through him in four rounds. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon after that, but Porter has never been in with someone who is young, unbeaten, passionate and huge at the weight. He’s going to be in real trouble in this fight – early.”
Neither Alexander nor Malignaggi could ever be regaled as a power puncher, whereas Brook does carry pop in both fists. The challenger has been a welterweight since he debuted in 2004, and is convinced that he can make Porter back off when he lands flush.
“I definitely can,” said Brook. “Everyone has a plan until they get hit, and when you get hit off me you know all about it. I took out a world-ranked opponent (Hector David Saldivia) with a jab, so once Porter feels my power he’ll know I’m anything but feather fisted. I’m a big strong man, who is coming without fear, and I’ll be taking the fight to him.”
Porter (24-0-1, 15 knockouts) fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and has already received plenty of fanfare heading into this second title defense. As a result he seems a touch dismissive of the British challenger, who is relatively unknown across the Atlantic. Could the American make the mistake of underestimating Brook?
“I’ve seen some interview clips, but generally he seems respectful,” said Brook. “If my opponent shows respect then I’ll respect them, but if they don’t respect me then they get nothing back. He comes across as a nice kid, but he’s criticizing me for talking, when I’m 32 fights unbeaten. Look, the proof is in the pudding and I always find a way to win.”
The challenger indicated that he will be training in England ahead of this eagerly anticipated showdown, but also suggested that he might arrive in New York way ahead of time. With two months until fight night Brook sees only victory, and has set the bar very high in terms of his expectations.
“There’s many ways it can go but it all depends on what type of fight Porter wants,” said Brook with confidence. “I’m looking to impress in New York and take him out. This win will propel me on to the big stage, and there will be talk of Mayweather and Pacquiao once I’ve taken this guy apart.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing