These isles are enjoying a golden era for the sport, with gate and pay-per-view revenue able to entice the sport’s big foreign names over like never before.
Undefeated Texan Errol Spence Jr, known as The Truth, was the latest one to travel after working his way into the mandatory position for Brook’s IBF welterweight title.
But, following the brilliant Gervonta Davis’ victory over Liam Walsh at
Spence has been hailed as the future of boxing, the next big American star who is a ready-made heir apparent for retired Floyd Mayweather’s throne. He had never, however, mixed at this sort of level.
But he proved he belonged with a mature and patient performance against Brook, who was roared on and fired up by over 25 000 spectators at the home of the team he supports.
Brook was first brought here as a kid by his uncle Johnny and had always dreamed of boxing in the middle of it. In time, he will be proud of what he did here but, for now, it will be an arena punctuated by pain.
Eight months have passed since he suffered his first defeat, when Kazakh middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin broke the Englishman’s right eye socket en route to a stoppage win.
This time, it was the left that crumbled on him.
“I got hit on the eye in the seventh round,” he said afterwards. “And it felt the same as the Golovkin one.”
Almost immediately, the eye began to look in a real state, with swelling round the side and underneath. All the while, Spence began to apply the pressure after a highly-technical and, at times, tentative first half to the bout.
There was not much in the scores by now, however, but Spence began to hammer home his point in the 10th when he forced Brook to the floor.
A left hand appeared to do most of the damage, but it was the right he was throwing as his opponent buckled to the canvas.
Brook was up reasonably quickly, and had the crowd back on their feet in the 11th round when a left hook of his own jolted Spence’s head back.
But any sense of a turning tide was short-lived. Spence got back on the front foot and, as Brook retreated to the ropes, he pawed at his left eye and dropped to his knee. The count began, but there was little need. By this point, he was down and out.
As referee Howard Foster counted, Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle was waving his hands on the apron.
It was Ingle who had thrown in the towel with his fighter’s eye socket in a mess back in September, and he saw the signs here too.
Spence, who moved to 22-0, will now argue that this victory makes him the world’s premier welterweight, above the likes of Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and Shawn Porter.
This was a performance which sparkled in patches, but was about awkward effectiveness rather than crowd-pleasing action.
At 31, and after the sort of showpiece he might never top, there is a nagging feeling that Brook may walk away from the sport after 36 victories and two defeats.
An all-British superfight against Amir Khan, who was working for Sky at
But given their struggles to make that fight happen up until this point, it is not unlikely that it will go down as the fight that might have been.
It was not all bad news, however, for the British boxers at
He was right, as the Londoner put a stop to tough Russian Fedor Chudinov after 1:14 of round six to clinch the vacant WBA super-middleweight title.