By Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
So today, I have been at the press conference for Kell Brook’s fight with Kevin Bizier at Bramall Lane in Sheffield. Brook has ambitions of fighting at the home of Sheffield United so perhaps, although it would be unlikely, this could be the start of the build-up to a world title defence at the Blades’ ground.
But then you start thinking, what good would it actually do Brook, expect line his pockets, a definite positive, and what would he actually gain from it. In a pretty round about way, what I’m basically saying is is this the last time for a while Kell Brook will and should box in the UK?
“The Special One” has been unfortunate since winning the world title against Shawn Porter back in August 2014. The horrific stabbing in Tenerife and a cracked rib injury that cancelled his fight with Diego Chaves a week before the scheduled meeting, sandwiched two straight forward defences of the IBF welterweight title against Jo Jo Dan and Frankie Gavin.
Now in his third defence he returns to his Sheffield fortress to face Bizier, who he should have far too much for. But, then what happens next? His promoter Eddie Hearn is talking about a massive fight in the Summer and a possible date at Bramall Lane, however realistically who would come to Sheffield to clash with Brook?
Hearn always mentions how he likes to secure life-changing money for his fighters, which is fair enough. After all, these guys are putting a lot of risk, for sometimes very little reward in the ring, so if Hearn can change their lives, then fair play and all the credit in the world to him.
The Matchroom boss is on the look out to secure a massive name as an opponent for the Sheffield man, however the chances of one of them coming to the UK is highly unlikely, unless it’s a purse bid or ridiculous offer.
Why should the likes of Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia come to Sheffield, when they fight for huge purses in sub-standard fights in the States? It’s quite interesting to see that Thurman’s next opponent and Brook victim, Shawn Porter has done more and been in bigger fights since losing the title than Brook has since winning.
So what should Brook do to secure those fights? Well, it’s pretty simple. He should get Hearn to use his relationship, which he enjoys bragging about, with Al Haymon and get Brook back to the USA. That seems the only way he can secure a big fight for the IBF champion.
Forget the hometown crowd in Sheffield, as good as it is. He’s done it once before, so why can’t he do it again. Let’s see Hearn get Brook over in America and up against some of the big names opponents in one of the sport’s most lucrative divisions.
After all the bad luck, he deserves the chance to prove he is the best.
Also on the bill is Luke Campbell, who takes on Gary Sykes for the Commonwealth lightweight strap in an intriguing fight. For Campbell it marks his return to the ring since his loss last December and his first fight under his new full-time trainer Jorge Rubio, after re-locating to Miami.
This is no cake walk for Campbell, who begins the re-build after a loss to Yvan Mendy and a chance to show that the faith put him by many as a future world champion was not misguided.
I like that Campbell is taking a tough, domestic scrap in his return, rather than a straight forward knock over job. If he underestimates Sykes then it could be a massive mistake by the Hull man, as Sykes’ experience will be an element Campbell hasn’t dealt with too much in his pro career.
My interest in Campbell though is to whether he felt his career was held back by the long winded build-up to the Tommy Coyle fight, where Campbell won in the 10th round last August. This clash was built for a long time and by the time it finally came, we were all pretty fed up with it all.
It could have happened earlier than it did, but the desperation to secure a stadium fight for the event took over. I was there and apart from the rain, it was a good event, but the fight was almost a foregone conclusion.
Campbell’s performances seemed to regress as the Coyle fight built and something wasn’t quite right when he fought Mendy in December. When I put the question to him, he seemed to agree with the statement, but was non committal on some aspects.
It was a shame to see him stagnate and be held back like he was for the sake of a local derby, but hopefully it’s a lesson learned and one of the country’s most impressive fighters can now begin his path to world title success in earnest this time.
Finally, this week it was announced that Ricky Burns will aim to become a three weight world champion on May 28th against Michele Di Rocco in Glasgow, despite having just one fight at the weight, a losing effort to Omar Figueroa last May.
You can’t pay too much attention to the weight, as Figueroa regularly weighs whatever he feels like for every fight, but for Burns this is a chance to get back to the pinnacle of the sport.
If anyone is a perfect example of the grass not always being greener on the other side, it’s Ricky Burns. When he was with Frank Warren, he got steady defences and was scheduled to take on Miguel Vazquez on home soil in what would have then be a lightweight unification title fight.
However, he switched allegiance to Matchroom, when he struggled with Jose Gonzalez, who eventually quit, got a debatable draw with Raymundo Beltran, before suffering back-to-back defeats to Terence Crawford, no disgrace, and Dejan Zlaticanin, which now doesn’t look too bad.
He has had other fights, but his biggest battle was in the courtroom against Warren, which ended in bankruptcy and not much support from Matchroom. Now he is hoping to re-build and is back in Glasgow, where he has had some great nights.
I hope that he does win the title, although it is a WBA title which probably has less recognition than the belt that holds your trousers up, and he starts enjoying some good times again.
Nobody has been treated worse than the Coatbridge man by boxing as a whole in the past few years as Ricky Burns.