I’ve always been a fan of Kell Brook. Drenched in sweat inside London’s historic York Hall in 2008 was where the proud Yorkshireman first properly caught my eye, stopping a brave Barrie Jones for the British welterweight title.
Jones was a tall, rangy southpaw who was offered the opportunity for the vacant Lonsdale belt at just three weeks’ notice. Brook, aged 22, was under the temporary tutelage of Dave Coldwell after a hiatus from the infamous Wincobank Gym. Dancing, jiving, gyrating to the ring in the heart of Bethnal Green, Brook was imitating his idol Naseem Hamed; calm, confident, and collected, the 16-fight novice was about to embark on a fight that would spark the kindling to a successful, yet a frustrating career.
Brook dominated the seven rounds that the Welshman survived, using his crisp timing and unorthodox movement to force the towel to be thrown in by Jones’ reluctant corner. If that retirement signaled the start of Brook’s climb, a similar act of compassion by Dominic Ingle eight years on against Gennadiy Golovkin signaled the beginning of his decline, in front of a packed-out 02 Arena in London.
Whether Brook needed to take that fight against a pound-for-pound topping Golovkin is up for debate. The Eubanks originally refused to sign off on the opportunity, leaving the door ajar, and with JoJo Dan, Frankie Gavin, and Kevin Bizier filling two years of IBF welterweight title defenses since a career-high win over Shawn Porter, Brook walked through it.