• Steve Bunce

Time for Brook to prove his recovery

Steve Bunce March 24, 2015
Kell Brook returns to the ring after beating Shawn Porter in August © Getty Images

Just before dawn, one day last September, Kell Brook was left bleeding to death, thinking of his family and thinking that he was going to die on a street in Tenerife.

He had been attacked by a wanted man, a known criminal during an incident that will probably never ever be fully explained. Having survived the initial machete slice to his right thigh, he had limped away leaving a terrible trail of blood. "I thought I was going to die," Brook admitted.

The vicious criminal is still on the run and Brook survived, but he did lose a lot of blood and there was a dreadful wait before he was given the message that he could continue his career. "I lost the momentum but not my desire," Brook added.

Buncey's Vaults

  • This is a classic of the time: "Frank Warren has finally found an active boxer from the 897 heavyweights in circulation to challenge Herbie Hide for the WBO championship at Manchester's Nynex Arena on Saturday week."
  • It was a big bill with Naseem Hamed and Chris Eubank in world title fights. "Hide will fight Damon Reed, from Kansas, who has lost just one of his 27 fights. Reed, 26, is the fourth opponent matched with Hide in two months and Warren said that 15 other heavyweights had refused the challenge."
  • One genuine world title contender, according to Warren, had said no to an offer of £400,000. Warren continued: "I happen to know that that the most he has made in the past is 100,000 dollars. This is mad."
  • In the end Reed was crushed in just 52 seconds and twelve months later Hide was stopped by Vitali Klitschko and lost his title. Hide last fought in 2010 and, having recently served a prison sentence, is contemplating a return to the ring.
  • As reported in The Daily Telegraph, April 9, 1998

The holiday in Tenerife with his long-term partner, Lindsey, and their young daughter was planned to celebrate the night in August, just a few weeks before, when Brook defied logical predictions and won the IBF welterweight title from previously unbeaten Shawn Porter in California.

There was a planned fight in November and, assuming that he had won that night, there was talk of a May fight with Amir Khan. The insults, the necessary pre-announcement banter, had started before his thigh was fileted by his assailant. The attack, by the way, took place in the fugitive's apartment.

This Saturday Brook returns to his hometown of Sheffield for a mandatory defence of his IBF belt against Canada-based Romanian Jo Jo Dan. It is, trust me, hard enough for a homecoming and certainly hard enough for a man that just over six months ago was left for dead in a darkening puddle of his own blood.

"I just want to make up for lost time," Brook said. "This is the start of a busy year for me and I'm in the best division in boxing - people have still not seen the best of me in the ring."

Brook still has his eye on Khan, there is a chance he will be a name in the mix as a future opponent once Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight. His old opponent, Shawn Porter, was calling for a rematch last week and another of the champions, a banger called Keith Thurman, has also mentioned Brook for a future fight.

And so into the plans and dreams of Brook and his backers, wanders little Jo Jo, a veteran of 36 fights and winner of 34. He is tough, make no mistake, has never been stopped but four of his last ten fights have been brawls over the full twelve rounds distance and three went to split decision verdicts.

If Brook, who has stopped or knocked out four of his last five without breaking a sweat, can send Jo Jo packing inside the distance it will show that his recovery has been complete and that his fear about his career being over was nothing more than a regular garden-variety nightmare.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.