Crawford vs Brook Preview
The final quarter of this most testing of years has included a boxing schedule where barely a week has gone by without a World title contest in the offering.
This Saturday, November 14th 2020, it is the turn of WBO Welterweight Champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford to oblige his offering, and step into The Bubble, at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. Fighting for the first time since last December, he meets a former Champion of the same weight, Kell ‘Special K’ Brook.
Although inactivity has been an unwelcome but understandable consequence of the global pandemic, Brook was able to fit in a much-needed February showing, just weeks before the instigated lockdown.
The timing of the contest wasn’t just essential for a boxer wanting to simply earn while plying his trade; it was a reminder to Brookhimself of what he was still capable of doing in the ring, andmaybe more importantly, what he still wanted to gain from the sport.
Brook’s new found desire has led to the viability of a contest with Crawford, who also happens to be one of the current-era’s most capable exponents. At first glance,Crawford and Brook’s recent journey’s may not amount to creating the most mouth-watering contest within the currentwelterweight ranks.
However, on closer inspection, it is clear that neither fighter can afford to perform anything less than to the best of their abilities in order to obtain victory.
The almost effortless efficiency by which Terence Crawford has sped through three weight divisions has led to him beinghailed as one of the greatest sportsmen ever from the Cornhusker State of Nebraska.
His potential was not lost on Hall of Fame promotor Bob Arum, who was eager to sign the young talent from Omaha to his Top Rank Promotions stable.
Showing a rare comfort and maturity while compiling early wins in both the lightweight and super-lightweight divisions, Crawford quietly emerged as the World Boxing Organisation’s number one contender at 135lbs.
Even entering the Champion’s home country wasn’t enough of an advantage for Scotland’s Ricky Burns in the spring of 2014; lasting the distance but ultimately losing his title clearly and decisively to this new kid on the block. The secret was now out.
If the Burn’s victory was an eye opener that gained respect and recognition by those who follow the sport, Crawford’s lack of respect for the already recognised Yuriorkis Gamboa,in his first title defence, was surely the type of destruction and dissection of an opponent that creates debate and discussion within the boxing community of the highest order.
At a time where the sport was looking for a new figurehead to lead boxing into the post-Mayweather era, Crawford was emerging as one of the frontrunners to that mantle.
Picking up a second WBO title at the weight above, by blasting out Thomas Dulorme in six rounds for the vacant 140lbs strap,this eventually led to a unification against only the second undefeated opponent of his seven World title contests.
Ukraine’s Viktor Postol held the WBC trinket, and was expected to present the American with the sternest test of his career. Not too testing as it turned out, with two of the three judges only finding two rounds where Postol got the better of Crawford, the third judge giving the fight to the same winnerby a similarly wide nine-point margin.
The Unified Champion completed his path to becoming the Undisputed Champion, by main eventing in his home state at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on August 19th 2017.
’Bud’ crushed another unbeaten fighter, and fellow two-belt holder, in the form of Namibia’s Julius Indongo. The conclusive knock-out of Indongo placed Terence Crawford as only the third man to be an undisputed World Champion in the four-belt era.
With all challengers and champions defeated, and all the titles collected, another move up in weight naturally beckoned, as did another World title shot at that divisions WBO Champion.
Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn was the unfortunate recipient of yet another clinic by Crawford, announcing himself as a major player in a welterweight division stacked with recognised talent and box-office names.
However, despite his plethora of success, and after defending his sixth World title three times, critics are quick to stress that a ‘defining’ fight of sorts still seems to have eluded him.
The great Floyd Mayweather was criticised by some for his over reluctance to defend and counter-attack rather than press the action in a contest. The seemingly defensive style of ‘Money’ however, cannot be used as a source of evidencewhen trying to find faults in Crawford, who often aims to entertain with sharp shots powering from his long levers as he stalks wounded opponents.
His defensive skills are exquisite,but more through distance and timing rather than slipping and rolling on the ropes. Crawford’s almost leisurely disposal of his competition is where any negativity towards him usually stems from.
Mayweather was forced to showcase a spitefulness from very early on in his career; the path in becoming a multi-weight World champion included victories against the likes of Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo and Arturo Gatti.
This level of opponent and opportunity to perform on the stages that those Mayweather conquests demanded have also eluded Crawford thus far.
When Kell Brook gained victory in Carson, California against America’s IBF Welterweight Champion Shawn Porter, the Englishman’s hard-fought win was instantly etched in hiscountry’s history of famous triumphs on away soil.
Becoming the World Champion in the summer of 2014 was expected to be the start of securing the biggest fights possible. However, it would be a fair to assess that the ensuing six years have not gone quite as planned.
Brook’s reign as the IBF Welterweight Champion was almost over before making a single defence, when an out of the ring incident resulted in him being stabbed in the leg. Without going into specific details of the event, his left thigh required 32 metal staples to repair the damaged caused.
Months of rehabilitation followed throughout the recuperation period, meaning that Brook’s first defence didn’t take place until the following March.
Romanian Ionut Dan Ion became the first of three uninspiring challengers to Brook’s title over the next year. Unification bouts eluded the Sheffield man, yet an unlikely opportunity against one of the sports undisputed attractions was presented to him.
Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin was the World’s leading Middleweight, and in September 2016 Kell Brook attempted to become the king two weight divisions north of where he campaigned.
An exciting and valiant attempt was made by ‘The Special One’, but he was stopped on his shield in the sixth round, after his right eye socket was broken by the naturally bigger and stronger 160lbs Champion. Another surgery, and another prolonged period of recovery required.
Rather than shirk his responsibilities at 147lbs, Brook returned eight months later to defend against the highly regarded mandatory contender Errol Spence Jr.
A fightercoming back from a first defeat often adds a different sort of pressure than what they have been used to, returning as a Champion yet being expected to lose again can add even further levels of unfamiliarity.
Nearly 30,000 fans supported Brook at Brammall Lane Football Ground, the home stadium of his beloved Sheffield United Football Club. Although the outcome was another stoppage loss, tremendous performancesby two of the divisions finest created a splendid match up that bore witness to the type of high quality and class that only the best of boxing can produce.
Brook hasn’t returned to the welterweight division in over three years, but some observers could be excused for thinking he hadn’t even returned to the sport. Spence Jr went onto unify the division, and it is a contest involving he and Crawford that the sport hungers for over nearly every other potential match-up.
Brook has hinted at possessing the desire to win a World title at a second weight, but a trio of relatively low-key wins show little proof of this.
Another opportunity for redemption has presented itself to Brook, but maybe a re-defining opportunity? Whatever the outcome, it may be time for ‘all of the lights’ to be turned off on Kell Brook’s career this weekend.
What a wonderful way it would be to walk away from the sport as a World Champion after defeating one of the sports current elite.
It is almost certain that he will display the courage and determination that has been recognisable throughout his 16-year career. Combined with the finely crafted skills that havebrought him so much prior success, Brook may well prove to be Crawford’s toughest assignment yet.
However, the current incarnation of Brook will unlikely be able to summon the required effort, or enough moments of success, to dethrone a Champion that just may be today’s finest practitioner of them all.
Brook’s body possesses a fragility that doesn’t match his intelligent skillset. The fitness and strength of Brook is may well dwindle as the contest goes long.
Crawford will most likely have to absorb the best of what Brook can offer early, only for the Champion’s timing and precision to end matters in the second half of an engrossing scrap.
by Stephen Sorby