Who next for Kell Brook?

Sport360 staff 12/09/2016
Raised profile: Kell Brook impressed against Golovkin.

Kell Brook lost as a professional for the first time when his IBF and WBC middleweight title fight with the fearsome Gennady Golovkin ended in a fifth-round stoppage.

He will be operated on during the coming week after his right eye socket was broken, but has already spoken of his intention to return at light-middleweight.

Who are the likely contenders for his next opponent?

Amir Khan (Light Middleweight)

The fight Brook has long wanted, and which would be the biggest either can expect in the UK.

Khan has long dismissed his rival as not having enough of a reputation, which will be more difficult to argue after he impressed so many against Golovkin.

As well as the bad feeling between the two, what weight they fight at could prove a problem.

Saul Alvarez (Light Middleweight)

Many consider a fight between Mexico’s Alvarez and Golovkin as the biggest in the world.

The 26-year-old appears in no rush to fight the man from Kazakhstan, however, and with Brook said to have impressed American television network HBO on Saturday night he may be considered as a suitable opponent.

Alvarez next fights Britain’s Liam Smith for the WBO light-middleweight title on Saturday.

Liam Smith (Light Middleweight)

The 28-year-old defends his WBO light-middleweight title against Alvarez on Saturday.

In the event of victory or defeat – the former is expected – a match-up against Brook would have widespread appeal.

The weight would also suit each fighter, but how likely an agreement is between rival promoters Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn, who respectively work with Smith and Brook, is in doubt.

Miguel Cotto (Light Middleweight)

Puerto Rico’s oncegreat Cotto, 35, is in the final stages of his decorated career yet retains enough of his abilities to remain a worthwhile opponent.

His reputation would also ensure a potential fight against Brook would generate significant interest both in the US and UK.

Brook’s promoters, however, are likely to pursue an easier – and cheaper – fight given he is expected to be out until at least next spring.

Cornelius Bundrage (Light Middleweight)

America’s former world champion Bundrage, 43, may prove the ideal opponent for Brook to return against.

His promoters are fond of pursuing fights with fighters who were once world-level but offer a reduced threat.

Bundrage is established at light-middleweight and fought for a world title in his past fight, but no longer poses a huge threat.

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Brutal: Golovkin outpowered Brook in London.

Kell Brook has defended trainer Dominic Ingle amid criticism of his decision to throw in the towel during his WBC and IBF middleweight title defeat by the fearsome Gennady Golovkin.

With Brook under intense pressure from the champion’s latest assault, already appearing tired and his right eye cut and swollen, Ingle ended the fight to conclude a resilient performance. The challenger was taken to hospital with a broken eye socket before being released in the early hours of yesterday morning.

He is to be operated on in the coming week, before preparing for an eventual return to the ring at light-middleweight.

“I came back after the second round and said ‘I can’t see out of the right eye, Dominic’,” Brook, 30, told Sky Sports. “I was talking to him, and he knows me, he saw me growing up as a kid.

“He’s like a father figure. It was the right decision and I can fight another day. I was getting caught, and getting caught. It could have ended up seriously bad. As much as the loss has been gutting and upsetting, I’m excited and happy the fans have seen a great battle against a great fighter, a throwback fighter.

“I’m looking forward to getting straight back in the top boys. I’ve had a taste of this magnitude of fight and I want this again. I’ll be back and I’ll be twice as strong and twice as fast.”

Brook had been the significant underdog having stepped up from welterweight against one of the world’s leading and most destructive fighters. Few observers believed him capable of winning,

Brook has eye on big fights after surgery but his promoter Eddie Hearn maintained fighting Golovkin was the right thing to do.

“Peter Nelson (executive president of American television network HBO) has already come up to me and said: ‘We need to talk about Kell Brook’,” said Hearn. “That was part of the plan: to broaden the brand. So actually, it was a very smart move.”

Brook’s domestic rival Amir Khan last fought at 155lbs when losing to Mexico’s Saul Alvarez in May but is expected to return at welterweight in 2017.

The weight Brook gained to challenge Golovkin, combined with his previous, intense struggles to make the 147lb limit means he is likely incapable of returning there.

Hearn, however, again spoke of his desire to match the two together.

“As a promoter there is nothing better in a build-up than two fighters who don’t particularly like each other,” the 37-year-old said. “But for now it’s about getting that eye socket tidied up, having some rest and he’ll probably be returning in the spring, summer next year.”

The 34-year-old Golovkin’s performance again demonstrated why he is considered one of the greatest middleweights in history and why he is so widely feared. His possession of the IBF, WBC and WBA titles – the WBA refused to sanction theirs for Saturday’s fight – has made WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders his next target.

Victory over Saunders would unify the division’s four world titles, and asked who he next wanted to fight, the Kazakh said: “First of all Billy Joe Saunders, and then ‘Canelo’ (Saul Alvarez). Now I want a unification fight. I would absolutely come back to the UK to fight. I love the UK, I’m a big fan of London.

“(Brook’s) strong but he’s not a middleweight. In the first round I felt I’m stronger. In the second I wanted a street fight.”

His promoter Tom Loeffler said that America’s Danny Jacobs is another potential opponent, and added: “Maybe (Brook’s performance) will give (other opponents the) courage to actually sign a contract.”

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UFC 203: CM Punk's car-crash MMA debut

Alex Rea 12/09/2016
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Miocic mauling: Stipe Miocic retained his UFC Heavyweight belt by knocking out top contender Alistair Overeem.

UFC 203 will go down as an anomaly in the promotion’s history. It was certainly one of the most peculiar as bizarre circumstances underpinned what was, in the end, an entertaining maiden voyage to Cleveland for the UFC.

First, there was the out-of-place MMA debut for a former WWE star as CM Punk predictably looked out of his depth.

Then, there was the sight of Fabricio Werdum landing a flying sidekick to Travis Browne’s chin three seconds after the opening bell before the fight descended into pure parody. Browne unilaterally stopped the bout due to a broken finger and referee Gary Copeland wrongly obliged.

And to top it off, Werdum then front kicked Browne’s head coach Edmond Tarverdyan after the decision was rendered.

The strangeness did not stop there either as the main event had its own odd occurrences, too.

Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, in front of his fervent home support, was flattened early in the first round by Alistair Overeem, who then himself was knocked out before going on to wrongly claim post-fight he actually won the fight due to a phantom Miocic tap to a guillotine choke.

Yes, weird just about sums it up. In equal measure, though, it was absorbing. When CM Punk emerged to Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” for his first ever MMA fight against talented prospect Mickey Gall, the debate as to whether he deserved to be there in the first place dissipated and left in its place was curiosity – a first for a fight between two men with two total bouts.

Punk is sunk: A defeated CM Punk.

When the action began, though, the interest subsided. Punk was immediately taken down and in under two minutes, Gall had the 37-year-old tapping to a rear-naked choke – a brutal reminder that the UFC is not the place to be ticking off goals for your bucket list.

Punk, though, intends to fight on and if he does, then it should be in the amateur ranks.

“My initial venture into this was gonna be at the lowest level,” Punk said at the post-fight press conference. “This opportunity just got presented to myself and I would have been a fool to say no. I don’t know what happens from here on out. What if I get cut? I don’t know. I think that’s a possibility. Do I want that to happen? No. But who’s to say where I go from here? I don’t know. I definitely want to keep going.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Miocic knows exactly where he is heading and it’s into a title defence against one of the best heavyweights of all time in Cain Velasquez.

The Cleveland native successfully defended the belt he captured at UFC 198 and although it was clear he had won, the fight was marred by the confusion of Overeem’s accusation of a tap. There’s only one thing Miocic remembers, though.

“I just remember signing my cheque and all that good stuff, and I heard boos,” he said. “I asked what they (the crowd) were booing about because I knew he (Overeem) was talking, and they told me that he said that I tapped out. I don’t remember tapping out, I just remember punching his face repeatedly until he was unconscious.”

In the other odd occurrence of the night, Werdum recovered from losing the belt to Miocic in May to grind out a unanimous decision victory over Browne. The fight, save for the first three seconds, was a sleeper but it exploded when Tarverdyan confronted the Brazilian who in turn push kicked the cornerman away from danger.

“I just keep my distance, I don’t want to kick him, I just keep the distance, you know, he’s a boxing coach, and I see in his eyes he wants to punch my face,” Werdum said. “He comes first. He says a lot of things, a lot of bad things.”

Cooler heads prevailed and the trouble dispersed but it all added to a strange night in the UFC.

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