It is safe to assume Kell Brook will not be celebrating his next victory in Tenerife, at least not with strangers.
That Brook is able to defend the IBF welterweight title he won so impressively against Shawn Porter in the United States is a triumph all on its own, his severed thigh having required 32 staples to stick it back together after a random machete attack.
Brook’s assailant was never apprehended. In his dreams the hooligan who attacked him in the early hours in Golf del Sur last September would be the one standing in the opposite corner in Sheffield tonight. In reality that honour goes to mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan, part of the Romanian diaspora domiciled in Canada.
Kell Brook - pictures by Steve Morgan
Brook would prefer a marquee name and is already targeting a unification bout with Floyd Mayweather, assuming the undefeated American endures in the multimillion dollar extravaganza against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, and Sheffield’s finest comes through tonight.
“Mandatories come along and you have to deal with them,” Brook said. “He’s earned his position, like I did against Porter, so he gets his chance to take that title off me – but that’s not happening.
“I am not looking past him, but I know that there are massive fights out there for me in the division and, after I take care of business tonight, I am free to fight anyone.”
Brook is the last of the Sheffield dynasty begun by the great Irish maverick Brendan Ingle. From the unlikely barrio of Wincobank a fine tradition of boxing limbo dancers has lit up the British scene, from the great Errol “Bomber” Graham to Naseem Hamed and Johnny Nelson.
The old man is no longer practising but the tradition survives in its amended form through the auspices of Brook and his trainer, Ingle’s son Dominic.
“He is probably the last fighter Brendan, my dad, spent a great deal of time on from an early age,” said Dominic. “The most important time is when they come into the gym for the first time from nine or 10 years old. The influence those early years can have on them, when they can absorb stuff and learn, will determine how far they will go.
“Kell started training at our gym when he was nine. He started with five or six other lads and there’s a photo of them all on the wall in the gym. Kell’s the only one who stuck it out. When Kell first came we had the likes of Naseem Hamed, Ryan Rhodes and Johnny Nelson in there.
“We get lots of lads that come in but this particular kid I remember because he didn’t like it. Then he came back two years later and I remember him watching me taking Naz on the pads. I asked him to do a bit of footwork but he kept looking back and watching Naz. Naz mesmerised him.”
Hamed was instrumental in transforming the boxing landscape, not only in Sheffield but beyond, turning fight night into an event. He knew the party took place inside the ropes. One assumes Brook has absorbed that lesson.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Kell Brook Ionut Dan Ion
28 Age 33
Special K Jo Jo Dan
33 Fights 36
33 Wins 34
22 (By KO) 18
0 Defeats 2
0 (By KO) 0
Orthodox Stance Southpaw
5’ 9” Height 5’ 9½”
69” Reach 70½”
146lb Weight 146.4lbReuse content