Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom says former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook is “desperate” to fight the winner of Saturday’s fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith. ‘Special K’ retired in February after stopping long-time rival Amir Khan, but Shalom suggests the Sheffield fighter is close to a comeback.
The promoter told Sky Sports, "Kell will be there on Saturday. He's desperate for the winner of that fight. He wanted the Eubank fight after the Khan fight.” Shalom reiterated Brook’s desire for the fight, stating "He feels he wants the winner of this fight whether that's Liam Smith or whether that's Eubank Jr.”
It can be hard for a fighter to let go of the spotlight. There are far more examples of boxers who have gone on too long than there are fighters who retired at the right time. British icons like Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe got out when the going was good, beating Vitali Klitschko and Roy Jones Jr respectively. But countless domestic icons have gone out on their backs. Ricky Hatton was dismantled by Vyacheslav Senchenko. David Haye was stopped twice by Tony Bellew, before Bellew himself was knocked out by Oleksandr Usyk.
Brook has a chance to be one of the rare success stories. Poetically, he does so as a result of condemning another Brit legend to a sour final note. Everyone agreed ahead of Brook and Khan’s meeting at Manchester Arena in February that the bout had arrived many years too late. The pair had been world champions in the previous decade, but damaging defeats had sapped their world class skills.
Still, these two box office names sold tickets and the occasion was an exciting one. It was an appropriate one too, for one of the pair to go out in a blaze of glory. On the night, it looked like Brook had done just that. An exciting fight in front of a crackling Manchester atmosphere gave way to a thrilling finish as Brook turned back the years for a sixth-round TKO.
This nostalgic night was the perfect place to end the incredible journey of ‘Special K’. An old rival across the ring, with both men at the same late stage in their career. An adoring crowd wanting to relive the pomp of two of Britain’s best. But the issue with such a perfect, satisfying ending is that the victory always convinces the victor he can repeat the trick. After tasting the dizzying high of adulation, the fact Khan was a shell of his former self became lost on Brook. He won, that’s all that mattered. And he believes he can win again.
But he can’t. At least not against Chris Eubank Jr or Liam Smith. Sure, ‘K’ could come back against a middling fighter at the age of 36 and still look reasonably ‘Special’. But Eubank and Smith aren’t middling fighters. They are world level operators close to their physical primes.
Admittedly in Smith’s case, with a WBO light middleweight title reign in his rearview, he is probably on the downslope now. But he still seems much fresher than Brook, who has fought once since 2020. Smith is riding a streak of three knockout wins, including victories over domestic rival Anthony Fowler and former world champion Jessie Vargas.
Eubank is a different prospect entirely. Unbeaten in nearly five years, ‘NextGen’ has fought as high as super middleweight. Brook’s best work came 21-pounds south of that at welterweight. Putting aside the obvious weight discrepancy, Eubank has the look of a fighter on the rise. On a six-fight winning streak that includes victories over James DeGale and Liam Williams, it is hard to see what a retired Brook can do to put a dent in the world title hopeful.
Comebacks rarely end well. Unlike Hatton or Haye, who stepped back through the ropes after hurtful defeats, Brook does not have a compelling wrong to right. He won his last fight and won it well. Smith looks too fresh for him, Eubank looks too big for him. Brook was every bit as special as his nickname suggests. His away assignment in 2014, when he went to the States to beat IBF champion Shawn Porter, is one of the great British wins. But now it is time to lay a superb ring career to rest and let the new generation have their turn.
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