Robinson breaks down Brook vs Spence Jr
Ahead of Saturday night's welterweight showdown between Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr, Sky Sports' Ed Robinson breaks down the fight in conversation with Martin Chesnutt...
On Saturday night Kell Brook will realise a dream, headlining a big show at Bramall Lane in his home city, Sheffield. Highly rated American Errol Spence Jr. is his opponent in a fight so intriguing, some wonder how it passed the risk/reward assessment.
Finding people with a strong sense of how this fight will go has not been easy, and Ed Robinson of Sky Sports is also scratching his head, trying to make sense of what should be a competitive bout for Brook’s IBF welterweight title.
“There’s not one thing. It’s basically, can Errol Spence take a punch? Is there damage from the Golovkin fight? Is Kell Brook as good a fighter after the Golovkin fight, or even improved? Is there any kind of lasting damage with the eye? How Kell Brook has made the weight?”
With so many factors to be considered, this is normally a good sign of an interesting fight.
Fans of the champion have wondered about home advantage and how Spence Jr. may perform in his first professional fight outside of North America, but Robinson isn’t sure it will be an issue.
“I think it completely depends on the personalities involved. I just don’t know enough about Errol Spence’s temperament yet to make those judgements," he told BM. “He seems like an understated guy, not the kind of guy to get caught up in the hype, not the kind of guy to smile when he doesn’t need to smile. He seems a real family man, and his dad seems to keep him very grounded.”
Robinson added: “But what I would say is, there’s got to be certain doubts when you do something you haven’t done before. As soon as you’ve done something once, some of the fear factor goes away, and you know in yourself what you can do.”
With the fight being outdoors at a football ground, and the British weather unpredictable at the best of times, perhaps a late start, when it’s cooler could have an impact.
“Dallas, it’s warm out there. It’s not going to be warm at Bramall Lane, and it is going to be a hostile crowd. He [Spence Jr.] seems quite a stoic, tough guy, but it’s still going to be a culture clash for him. Although, he’s come over in plenty of time.”
A big unknown is how Brook, at the age of 31, will cope with coming back down to welterweight after moving up, looking strong and healthy at middleweight against Gennady Golovkin.
Robinson feels that Brook's trainer Dominic Ingle, and his nutritionist must know what they’re doing in terms of making the weight without disadvantaging the champion.
“It’s really difficult for me to know. They’ve got all the inside information, we don’t. But the fact that they’ve taken it, when there were opportunities at 154 makes you think they know something we don’t. On the outside, it looks as though he’d be better served fighting at 11 stone.
“I think a side issue will certainly be the IBF check weigh-in on the day of the fight. He’s got to make weight twice. He can’t just psychologically make the weight and then just stuff his face to put on the pounds. He’s still got to be careful, and that means he can’t really relax.”
Brook has handled southpaws quite easily in the past, but Spence Jr. should prove to be a much tougher task than Jo Jo Dan or Frankie Gavin. Having said that, the Texan hasn’t been matched with anybody this dangerous in his previous 21 fights.
“Kell just hits you with a shot you don’t see," Robinson explained. "He’s got an uncanny radar in him for accuracy. He’ll throw a right hand, and he kind of curls it around the guard, or he’ll lean away from you and throw a left hook counter. He’ll hit Spence, and I think he’ll be shocked at the power and timing of it all.
“People talk to me about Errol Spence being a great force, but there’s still question marks about his chin. People in America have told me they’re not sure about it.
“He’s supposed to have looked amazing sparring with Floyd Mayweather and Adrian Broner, and he spars with Jermall Charlo, who’s a 154 pound fighter, so he’s naturally confident, and you’d think it would be okay.
“That being said, Kell makes mistakes. Sometimes he pulls back from a shot and you think he can get hit with a left hook. Although he’s very physically strong, which he showed against Shawn Porter, you just wonder on the inside, with the short body shots, whether they’ll take something out of Kell in the later rounds.”
Brook surprised a lot of people by returning to 147, but has already mentioned the possibility of a welterweight unification fight with Keith Thurman, and Robinson is not convinced that this will be the Sheffield man’s final fight in the division.
“It’s difficult to say, as if it’s a good fight, although it’s a mandatory, there could be a rematch. I think we’ll know more at 1pm on Friday at the weigh-in, and then at 9am on Saturday at the check weigh-in.”
Best known for his time in front of the camera, Robinson has moved to a new behind the scenes role as senior producer of Sky Sports' boxing shows. As host he didn’t like giving predictions, not wanting to be perceived as showing any preference.
“It’s different if you’re a pundit," he argued. "But if you’re hosting the show you have to be a bit careful. Even making a prediction can show a bit of bias. Now I feel perfectly comfortable giving a prediction, apart from [in this instance] I just don’t know. With this fight, it’s just really difficult. Really, really difficult!
“Sometimes with a fight like this, and the reason I can’t make up my mind, you feel they could fight ten times, you could have two different results, five times.”
Both fighters will genuinely feel they can not only win on Saturday, but also go on to even bigger occasions. Team Brook have previously been accused of waiting around too long for Amir Khan, wasting Kell’s potential. A lot of those sceptics were silenced when the Golovkin fight was accepted, but Brook will want to get as much as possible from the next 2-3 years.
“He had the longest current unbeaten run in British boxing, until losing to Golovkin," Robinson pointed out. "His career has been one of frustration, partly his own doing, partly the politics of boxing; but I remember when he was stabbed in the leg and people were saying he wouldn’t be able to box again, he recovered freakishly quickly. We just want to see him tested.”
The challenger is four years younger than the champion, but has not travelled over for a payday or the experience. With so much at stake, he will expect to prove to his believers that he is ready and the real deal.
“There’s that feeling with Errol Spence Jr., that the Americans have been really sold on him for a while, and I actually think Americans have underrated fighters in recent years," Robinson added. "People like Andre Ward, they’ve not had the credit they deserve, quite a few of their fighters actually. It’s more of the foreign imports that get headlines.
“But with Errol Spence, there’s been whispers about him for a very long time, and you just want to see if he’s as good as they say he is.”