In what was billed as one of the most anticipated boxing matches of 2017, Kell Brook put his IBF Welterweight title on the line in front of his hometown crowd of Sheffield, England against young American Phenom Errol Spence Jr. The fight had a long time to build as both fighters were coming off somewhat lengthy layoffs. Spence Jr. had not fought since blasting out savvy veteran Leonard Bundu in August of last year, while Brook had been out of the ring since September of last year after losing by TKO to Middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin. The fervor leading up to the contest was as intense as anything we had seen in boxing in quite some time with the UK vs USA rivalry playing a huge role in the promotions.
The fight began with a traditional feel out round. Spence was the busier of the two. He came out throwing his left jab as Brook tried to come over the top of it. He was able to put in some tremendous body work while in the clinch. It was still a relatively even round between the two. It was more of the same during round 2 but Brook was a bit more active. He was able to land a straight right hand early in the round but Spence began moving forward and applying pressure. Spence ripped left hooks to the body of Brook but was unable to follow it up with anything up top. Brook utilized the ring well in the latter half of the round and landed several shots up top as Spence held a high guard. Both fighters appeared to be in rhythm in round 3. Spence landed a left hook up top and followed it with a left hook to the ribs of Brook. Spence closed distance easy in the round. Brook had Spence against the ropes but preferred to move the fight back to the center of the ring. Brook ended the round with a combination to give Spence something to think about as he went back to his corner.
Spence came out fast in round 4 with a straight jab to the body of Brook and a left up top. The two did a lot of wrestling in the round as Spence continued to throw to the body while Brook clinched. Up to this point, it was a very difficult fight to score as it was fought in spurts. Round 5 was another back and forth round. Brook landed a 1-2 combination to start the round and later was able to counter Spence up top as Spence went to the body. The pace certainly seemed to favor Brook entering round 6. Brook started the round fast with a combination on Spence. Spence immediately fired back with a combination of his own to the body of Brook. Spence threw heavy combinations throughout the round and was able to land his jab more during the round. Brook developed a mouse on his left eye and Spence continued to jab at it. It was Spence’s best round to that juncture in the fight.
Brook pushed the pace in round 7 as he came forward during the round leaving Spence on his back foot. You could definitely see the power of Brook as he was able to outmuscle the young Spence at times in the clinch. Entering round 8 the fight appeared close. Spence continued to put in body work against the stronger Brook. Brook began patting at his eye in the round. Brook fired off a combination as he got Spence against the ropes but that was the most output from him in the round. His eye was swelling a lot worse and Spence was targeting it his jab. Spence was in a rhythm as this point and effectively applied forward pressure on Brook. Spence’s accuracy was improving and he had Brook backpedaling the whole round. The left eye continued to bother Brook as Spence unloaded on him in the round as he did not respond back with any punches. Brook was severely hurt in the round but was able to withstand the barrage from Spence.
Brook’s eye was swollen beyond recognition entering round 10 and Spence continued to pour it on. He put Brook on the canvas with a left hook that was set up by a right hook while Brook was on the ropes. Brook got up and put up a valiant effort to withstand the onslaught from Spence. He was able to counter Spence a few times as he got a little reckless in his combinations. Spence was still clearly in control but Brook was able to land a thunderous left up top but it did not derail the confident Spence. In round 11, Spence continued to bully forward and attack the body of the weakening Brook. Brook did everything possible to clinch and prevent the attack from Spence and eventually took a knee as his left eye seemed to be more of an issue for him. That knee would be the end of it for Brook as the fight was stopped by referee Howard Foster.
In his post-fight interview Spence was very humble in victory. He gave himself a B- grade for the performance as he felt a tad bit off after having a 9-month layoff. Spence mentioned he would like to fight Keith Thurman or Manny Pacquiao next to unify titles. Heading into the fight Spence was favored to win and certainly proved he was deserving of every bit of the hype he has garnered up to this point in his young career. He will have to be patient for a while for a possible unification bout with WBA and WBC titlist Keith Thurman, as Thurman is on the shelf for the rest of 2017 recovering from a recent elbow surgery. It would also be a delight for boxing fans to see Spence in the ring against the future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, but in all reality, the possibility of that fight happening is very slim. For now, we will have to wait and see what is next for Spence Jr. But with tonight’s victory, the future appears to be very for the new champion out of DeSoto, TX.