Brook v Jones. Ringside report
Should Kell Brook go on to fulfil his undoubted potential and enjoy success at world level, he may well look back on one particular moment as being the catalyst for any future glory.
As Sheffield’s favourite son slumped back on his stool after a torrid end to the tenth round he was tired, hurting and facing the prospect of six more minutes spent fending of the hard charging Carson Jones.
Faced with the classic ‘fight or flight’ conundrum, “The Special One” walked out for the eleventh round and chose to bite down on his gumshield and fight. In doing so he managed to bravely stem the charge of the tough American and demonstrate that he possesses the steel to go with his style. Whether he won the round or not, and I haven’t seen the official scorecards, Brook managed to box well enough to take away enough of Jones’ momentum and ensure he bought himself the opportunity to see out the final round. Had Brook, now 28-0 (18), chose to simply concede ground to the Oklahoma City native it would have surprised nobody in attendance or watching the fight live on Sky Sports had he suffered a fight deciding knockdown or even a stunning stoppage defeat in those final two sessions.
Instead, buoyed by a partisan crowd in Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, Brook landed just enough to ensure he escaped from the toughest fight of his career with a majority victory (114-114, 116-113 and 115-113). The sixty seconds Brook spent sat on that stool between the tenth and eleventh rounds should also hammer home the fact that failing to prepare meticulously will eventually cause your downfall at world level.
It had all started so well for the former British welterweight champion. Brook boxed superbly for six rounds as he was able to utilise a beautiful jab and excellent footwork to outbox Jones, now 34-9-2 (24). The 25 year old visitor dutifully attempted to walk through Brook’s best offerings but at times looked marked down for a late stoppage defeat as Brook was able land cleanly and often. Jones’ may have looked disorganised at times but never looked disheartened though and, by the end of the sixth round, had begun to turn the tide.
What had become an uncomfortable nights work turned into an ordeal in the eighth as Brook suffered a badly broken nose. I apologise for the cliché but the streaming blood really was like a red rag to a bull. Jones poured forward for the remainder of the fight and forced Brook to go to places he has never been before, enjoying success with both hands to both head and body. Sadly for Jones, his charge began a couple of rounds too late.
Whilst Brook certainly put a huge tick in the box marked ‘heart’ and will be relieved to have escaped with a hard fought and deserved victory, the night threw up some uncomfortable questions. Brook seems to have lost the ability to step up a gear when he has an opponent in trouble. The Yorkshireman may now be competing at a higher level but he had Jones in trouble on a few occasions during the first half of the fight and, had he put his foot down, maybe he could have eliminated the need for his unscheduled gut check. Promoter Eddie Hearn also seemed to question Brook’s preparation for the bout in the post fight interview. Carson Jones proved that anything other than a perfect build up will not get the job done at the top level.
An IBF final eliminator with Argentinian Hector Saldivia would be the ideal next step and the opportunity for Brook to show that he has learnt from the experiences of last night. The Brook bandwagon rumbles on.
Gavin Rees became a double champion as he added the brave Derry Mathews’ British lightweight title to his own European belt after a hard, high quality nine round battle. As the rounds wore on, 32 year old Rees was able to impose his game with increasing success as Mathews began to unravel after a promising start. The Welshman was able to shake off ‘Dirty’ Derry’s best work and close the distance, scoring with a succession of right hands and hooks to the body. Mathews, cut by the right eye after a third round clash of heads, boxed beautifully at times and seemed to hold the key to success in his straight right hand but, whether he damaged the hand or was just worried about Rees’ left hook over it, that source of success virtually dried up after the third round.
Having hurt the popular Liverpudlian with a couple of flush right hands and a left hook at the end of the eighth, former WBA light welterweight champion Rees jumped on his man in the ninth. Referee Howard Foster almost stepped in to save Mathews after a hard flurry but a Rees right hand followed by a left hook ended matters just seconds later.
Eddie Hearn will now attempt to engineer Rees, now 37-1-1 (18), a WBA world title shot. With his short stature, buzz saw style and durability, Rees will a difficult problem for any lightweight to solve. My opinion matters not a jot but I would love to see him fight the winner of the upcoming Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell clash.
28 year old Mathews falls to 30-7-1 (16) but showed that he still has plenty to give at British level. If rumours of Rees vacating his titles are true, he should be considered for an immediate shot. Derry Mathews v John Murray anybody?
Grzegorz Proksa regained his European middleweight belt with a one sided eighth round stoppage of former conqueror Kerry Hope. The 26 year old Proksa landed hard shots on the tough man from Merthyr Tydfil throughout the bout but didn’t seem to have learnt much from March’s previous encounter. Once again he loaded up with single wide shots, boxed with his hands at waist level and was tagged with punches throughout. Hope was unable to summon the superhuman reserves he conjured up last time around and the Pole treated him almost disdainfully at times. Proksa ended matters at 2.59 of the eighth with a huge right hook. Hope bravely got up but was in no position to continue.
Proksa is now 28-1 (21) but will need to improve for a rumoured fight with the returning Darren Barker. Hope falls to 17-4 (1).
In my opinion, Lee Purdy is Britain’s most exciting fighter. The Essex banger defended his English welterweight belt with a crushing first round stoppage of Chris Johnson. Purdy, 18-3-1 (11), broke Johnson’s rib with a left hook and then continued to unload on the 31 year old from Chorley. Johnson eventually sank to the canvas and upon rising was clearly in no position to continue. Purdy is rumoured to have a rematch with Commonwealth champion and former conqueror Denton Vassell lined up for September at Alexandra Palace. I can already assure you, it will be a fight well worth buying a ticket for.
Middleweight hope Ryan Aston suffered a shocking second round knockout at the hands of the huge punching Curtis Valentine. Aston was badly hurt every time Valentine landed yet showed no inclination to clinch, instead attempting to stand and bang with Valentine. Referee Michael Alexander should have stepped in well before Aston’s corner threw in the towel.
Valentine takes the Midlands area title and moves to 5-2 (4) whilst Aston suffered his first defeat after seven straight wins.
Super Middleweight Rocky Fielding made his Matchroom debut with a first round stoppage of the overmatched Ferenc Hafner. Fielding will just be happy to have been back in the ring.
Lightweight Scott Cardle recorded his first stoppage win in the professional ranks with a second round TKO of Karoly Lakatos.
2008 Olympian Kal Yafai made his professional debut and forced Delroy Spencer to retire after two one sided rounds at bantamweight.
Ryan Taylor recorded a 60-55 victory over Ibrar Riyaz at lightweight.
Lightweight Jordan Gill outscored Kristian Laight 40-36 on his professional bow.
Sam O’Maison outscored Johnny Greaves 40-35 at lightweight.
Rhys Roberts and Dai Davies battled to a six round draw in the night’s final bout. Michael Alexander scored the bout 58-58.