Kell Brook is likely to have surgery for a fracture of the left orbital eye socket before considering his future in the ring after losing his International Boxing Federation welterweight crown by 11th-round stoppage to Errol Spence.
Spence was ahead 97-92, 96-93 and 95-94 on the judge’s cards at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, when Brook genuflected for the count-out by referee Howard Foster Jnr.
Southpaw Spence bossed the contest, and although Brook had his moments, the Texan was never in trouble. When the champion’s eye began to close from the seventh round, the American capitalised by hurting the home fighter in the 10th, sending him down on the ropes under a barrage of punches.
Brook found his feet, and fought back terrifically, before taking a knee in surrender in the 11th with his left eye so heavily swollen it was all but closed.
Brook found that moving up to middleweight, and then coming back down to welterweight to defend his crown, was not to his liking.
Moreover, in Spence he met a man who is most likely to go on to reinforce his authority as the welterweight division’s No 1 boxer. It appears that the defeat by Gennady Golovkin – who fractured the orbital socket on Brook’s right eye last September – may have taken a lot out of him, in spite of the estimated £3 million which landed in his bank account.
Rarely, if ever, have boxers been able to go up in weight and then sustain their levels when coming down again. At 31, Brook must now move up and most likely has just two fights left.
Brook went to hospital immediately after the bout. “They kept me in until about 3am. I had a CT scan on my eye and the eye is broken again, the same injury as the Golovkin one, so maybe surgery again,” the crestfallen Brook said yesterday.
“I’m devastated. I knew from round seven that the eye had gone and progressively as the rounds went on. I tried to get through the fight and it kept going double vision and then coming back into line.
“In the later rounds, especially the 11th round, it stuck there and that’s why I went down on one knee and I remember the surgeon saying to me after the Golovkin fight: ‘If you would have gone another round or so you could be blind’. So I’ve got that going through my mind as well.”
But it was a brave display by Brook, who met his match in Spence. “I’m in my own city, I’m in Sheffield. I wear my heart on my sleeve. There were many things going through my mind but I remember thinking I live to fight another day. I think the time is now maybe to move up.
“I’ve been making welterweight since I was a teenager. My first fight I was about nine or 10. I went up to middleweight in my last fight, I put a lot of muscle on and it was so hard to get to welterweight.”
Spence, meanwhile, is likely to look to unify the division, and could meet compatriot Keith Thurman, holder of the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles, later this year. “It’s on the up from here now,” Spence said. “I want to unify the titles. My ultimate goal is to become the No 1 welterweight in the division.”
Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, said the Sheffield fighter would take time out after his injury, but believes “the iron man” will continue in his career at 11st.
“Kell has struggled with the weight, and he’ll have to move up,” said Hearn. “There’s no way Kell will call it a day right now – he’s a proud fighter and won’t want to go out like this.”
On Brook’s injury, Hearn said: “It’s a big blow to his career. There was a lot of pain going through the first one and now he’s got to go through another one, but that’s boxing.”
Source: Gareth A Davies| The Telegraph