Boxing: Brook ready to lift crown after life in shadow of 'Prince'

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The Independent Online

When Kell Brook was nine he sparred hundreds of rounds with Naseem Hamed at Brendan Ingle's unique gym at Wincobank on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Tonight Brook, who is now 22 and unbeaten in 16 fights as a professional, meets Rhondda's Barrie Jones for the vacant British welterweight title at York Hall. Under Ingle's watchful eye Brook would chase Hamed for his minute or so of sparring and the former World Boxing Organisation featherweight champion, would turn him and hold him off with a smile.

"Being in the same gym with Naz was the best possible start to a boxing career, but let me tell you that it wasn't long before he started clipping me," said Brook. "I could do flips and that used to annoy Naz because all he could do was that little flip when he got in the ring, but I could do proper somersaults.

"I used to watch Naz all the time and look at the brilliant way he put his punches together and the way he moved. He was the best," said Brook. There was a time when Ingle, who has now split with Brook, considered the boy to be a better fighter than Hamed.

Brook was twice due to fight Kevin McIntyre for the welterweight title but McIntyre suffered a back injury and last week the British Boxing Board of Control stripped the Paisley-based boxer of his title.

"I feel sorry for Kevin and I would gladly give him the first chance to try and win his title back," said Brook, but it might not be that simple because the board will nominate a mandatory cha-llenger after the fight and McIntyre is not guaranteed. In his last fight Jones drop-ped a 10-round points decision to Tony Doherty for the Welsh title, but Doherty was in no condition to face Brook and Jones agreed terms a week ago.