Aftermath: Brook vs Spence Jr
Errol Spence Jr came of age on Saturday night against gutsy Kell Brook over eleven fascinating rounds in Sheffield. In the aftermath, Boxing Monthly had some burning questions we wanted answering - Callum Rudge, Chris Williamson and Colin Harris provided the answers...
BM: What was your assessment of the fight and how did you score it up to the eleventh?
CR: I thought Brook settled the quicker of the two and I think the atmosphere inside the stadium had Spence a little bit rattled. I gave Brook the first three rounds, Spence was throwing jabs but not much more although he committed to the body from very early on. After round four I thought Spence started to take over and his consistency at attacking the body started to pay off. I was so impressed that - despite Spence's latter round dominance - he never went head hunting. He had a plan and he stuck to it. Brook's eye issues became really noticeable around round eight at which poimt I had it level. The knockdown spelled the beginning of the end and, despite a mild Brook comeback, the night belonged to Spence.
CW: It was a terrific bout between two highly skilled but aggressive fighters. I didn't score it but had the impression Brook built up an early lead before Spence's body work started paying dividends and the home fighter's apparent eye injury became a factor. Spence was ahead by the finish for me and after some horrible scoring in recent high-profile matches I was pleased all three official judges saw it that way too.
BM: What's your view of Brook's decision to 'quit' and take a knee in round eleven?
CR: He was clearly in some distress after round eight and wasn't seeing Spence's shots coming at him. Spence has amazing hand-speed and his shots would've doubly hurt on a bad eye. Brook's recent eye surgery would've no doubt crossed his mind as the injury got worse (despite it being the other eye) and I have no issue with him taking a knee. We as fans and journalists need to end this stigma around quitting - these men and women boxers are the bravest of the brave and I've always found it uncomfortable that we criticise boxers for saying 'enough is enough' while we pound away cup cakes and tweet from our phones. Kell Brook put up a fantastic effort and he has his life ahead of him, there was no need for him to risk long term damage for our entertainment.
CW: It's absolutely fine. I couldn't last long on social media today because it's so full of armchair 'heroes' who seem to want to watch sportsmen get seriously injured. Brook had given it all he had against a seriously dangerous fighter. He'd proven his guts in the torrid tenth round which was almost like a welterweight version of the tenth round of Holyfield vs Bowe I. That was Kell's last stand and, in light of recent tragedies, I'd actually have liked the referee or corner stop it sooner. Ask the half blind former light middle titlist David Reid where all the 'fans' who lauded his bravery are now.
CH: Brook's decision is ok in my book. The fact that he knew the risks with this kind of injury (after the GGG fight) means he will live to fight another day.
BM: Spence - can he become the man at 147lbs and topple Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao?
CR: I was massively impressed with Spence and I am glad I made the journey to sit ringside and watch him up close. His hand speed, tactical awareness and composure while under fire were great to see. I think Thurman is the man to beat at 147lbs but with him being sidelined for the rest of the year, Spence could be favourite by the time they meet. Pacquiao is on something of a retirement tour and think he's being lined up for Terence Crawford's eventual move to 147. But with the PBC having Garcia, Khan and Porter as well as Thurman, there are plenty of good challenges out there for Spence to prove himself in the next 12-18 months.
CW: Spence looks like the future of the division. He has a cocksure arrogance to him and seems eager to unify with the two rival champs, which is great news. Thurman and Spence have already started the social media build-up and one would hope that both being with Al Haymon makes it an easy match to make. Pacquiao less so. As to whether Spence would beat them I'd have to give it more thought - sorry for the arse splinters!
CH: I'd like to see Spence go for Thurman and unify three titles, Pac is going to do his own thing no matter what anyone else chooses/ says/ thinks. I think Spence could sneak past Thurman and become the division top-dog, but more attention will go to the Filipino legend. The main thing is that Spence needs to stay active and fight at least three times a year.
BM: Any interest in Khan vs Brook or has that boat sailed?
CR: I'm a sucker for a domestic grudge match and if both can come through warm-up fights at the end of the year (and Brook's eye isn't too badly damaged) I would be happy to see that fight at a football stadium next spring. I think both are past their best but it's still a fantastic event and interesting fight, although I would still fancy Brook strongly, even after this loss.
CW: It just isn't relevant anymore. Khan was talking up the possibility on the post-fight broadcast but had the desperate air of a travelling salesman peddling last year's worn-out stock.
CH: I consider Khan semi-retired, but I have to say I'm not too fussed about Khan fights any more I'm afraid.
BM: Complete this sentence (with reasons) - 2017 has been the best year of boxing since...
CR: 2015 - that year delivered strong title fights for the lineal championship in three of the glamour weight classes (welter, middle and heavy) with new champions being crowned in two of them. This year will likely top that though and if 2017 ended tomorrow it would still be better than 2016. This fight - along with Joshua vs Klitschko, GGG vs Canelo and Thurman vs Garcia means it will take a long time for this year to be matched. Credit to all those involved.
CW: It's still early in the year but if it continues to deliver (and there are some terrific matches scheduled) it'll probably be the best since 1991, a year I recall with fondness due to the likes of Nunn vs Toney, both Tyson vs Ruddock clashes, Nelson vs Fenech, Mercer vs Morrison, Lewis vs Mason, Thomas Hearns' last truly great win vs Virgil Hill and Foreman's incredible effort vs Evander Holyfield.
CH: 2017 has been the best boxing year since last year (I'm afraid I don't really do the annual comparisons - too many intangibles!)