Errol Spence lands his punch flush on the jaw of Kell Brook on Saturday night. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence lands his punch flush on the jaw of Kell Brook on Saturday night. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence screams in delight after knocking down Kell Brook. Photo: Carl Recine, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence screams in delight after knocking down Kell Brook. Photo: Carl Recine, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence poses with the IBF welterweight belt. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence poses with the IBF welterweight belt. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Kell Brook did manage to land some punches against Errol Spence. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Kell Brook did manage to land some punches against Errol Spence. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence knocks down Kell Brook. Photo: Carl Recine, Action Images via Reuters
Errol Spence knocks down Kell Brook. Photo: Carl Recine, Action Images via Reuters

SHEFFIELD – In the end, it was another one in the eye for Kell Brook and ditto British boxing.

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 London’s Copper Box Arena last weekend, it was another body blow for Britain up the M1 at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.

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.

Kell Brook goes down to his knees against Errol Spence. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters


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.

Errol Spence celebrates at the end of the fight. Photo: Andrew Couldridge, Action Images via Reuters


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.

Like Davis, he will now board the plane back across the Atlantic with a world championship belt in the hold.

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 Bramall Lane, would still sell.

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 Bramall Lane. In the chief support, George Groves finally won the world title after three failed attempts and dedicated the victory to Eduard Gutknecht who remains unable to walk or talk following their November bout.

Groves’ trainer, Shane McGuigan, had insisted during the build-up to this contest that his fighter had lost none of his ‘finishing instinct’ as a result of the tragedy.

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.

The Independent

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