Ever since winning the IBF back in 2014 after beating Shawn Porter in California, life as a world champion hasn’t gone as planned for Kell Brook. After three one-sided title defences against overmatched opponents, and once again failing to secure an all-British mega fight against Amir Khan, the welterweight stepped up two weight classes to take on the fearsome Gennady Golovkin – suffering the first defeat of his career. Having opted against moving to the light middleweight division, Brook will now defend his IBF title against exciting American Errol Spence at Sheffield United’s home stadium, Bramall Lane, on May 27.
While Brook’s talent has never been in doubt, his reign as champion has so far failed to involve a defence against a genuine world-class contender. Those criticisms can’t be made at the Englishman’s next fight, though. In Spence, Brook will meet one of boxing’s most hotly tipped prospects, unbeaten in his 21 professional fights, winning 18 of them by way of stoppage. The 2012 Olympian has looked sensational since moving into the paid ranks and many have tipped the 27-year-old to leave the UK with the IBF belt around his waist.
Spence, who has pre-fight betting odds of 4/6 with 888sport, put himself into a mandatory position with the IBF after stopping experienced contenders Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu, improving his already impressive knockout ratio to 86 per cent. But despite his success over the past five years, his upcoming clash against Brook in Sheffield will be the first time he has fought outside the USA as a professional. With more than 20,000 fans expected to fill Bramall Lane at the end of May, the atmosphere and occasion will be factors that Spence has never experienced before.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) March 31, 2017
Long viewed as one of the most skillful fighters in the welterweight division, Brook’s brave defeat to Golovkin last year proved that he is also one of the toughest. Having dominated almost all his opponents during his 36-fight unbeaten run, we saw a different side to the Yorkshireman during his defeat to the terrifying middleweight king. While many called on Brook to vacate his 147-pound world title and move up to a more comfortable light middleweight division, the IBF champion made it clear that wasn’t something he was willing to do – especially with some claiming he would look to avoid Spence.
With big-money fights against the likes of Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao potentially waiting for Brook after the Spence bout, the 30-year-old knows he will be in a much stronger position when it comes to the negotiation table if he retains his belt. But after struggling with his weight previously, and considering how naturally he moved up to middleweight, this may well be the last time Brook fights at 147-pounds. If he can beat Spence and silence those doubters tipping the American to rip the title from the Sheffield man on May 27, Brook will have proved beyond doubt that he is the best welterweight in the world.
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