Kell Brook has come a long way to get his first shot at a world championship.
The 28-year-old British sensation has had a career marked by fits and starts. Injuries have postponed several opportunities at world titles—some just weeks before the fight—and he’s happy to finally have his chance.
Brook challenges Shawn Porter for the IBF Welterweight Championship on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and he’s ready to put the past behind him and just fight.
“Yes, it’s been very, very frustrating for me," Brook said on a media conference call. "I’ve been in line for this title before, and injuries caused the delay. I’ve been on the back burner and trying to keep fighting in between. I’m on to a new chapter now, and here we are.
“I think Devon Alexander gave Shawn Porter a tough fight, and then Shawn looked good in his defense against [Paulie] Malignaggi. He took care of him, which no one has done before. He’s proven that he’s a worthy champion. I think I’m more than ready. I’ve been training very hard for this fight, and as the records show, I’m 32-0. That’s what I like to do, is win, and I’m coming over there and giving it my all.”
Porter has been on some roll of late.
He stepped up and took the fight with Alexander—a fight which at one time belonged to Brook—dominating and taking his welterweight crown in a minor upset at the Barclays Center.
The Akron, Ohio, native followed up that performance with a demolition of veteran and former champion Malignaggi in March, blitzing him from the start and stopping him with stunning ease.
Porter has established his credentials as one of the—if not the—best young welterweights in the world, and Brook understands that to get into that conversation, he needs to win.
“Of course, it’s a business, and it is in my mind. I know that this is the key to Fort Knox,” Brook said in response to a question about the importance of this fight.
“It’s a business; it’s a match of money fights out there, not Mr. Amir Khan, but international fights. I think people in America and around the world now will take note after beating Shawn Porter.”
An all-UK fight between Brook and Khan would be a huge deal across the pond.
British fight fans showed up to the tune of 80,000 strong at Wembley Stadium earlier this year for Carl Froch’s super-middleweight rematch with George Groves, and that set a standard that all other fighters now dream about.
Obviously, it’s far too early to assess whether Brook vs. Khan could do the same business, or whether it would even happen.
Brook maintains that the decision about whom he fights next, should he win, would be a team decision.
“I don’t know, and I think that if it came down to it, the team would decide what my next move will be. I just know that winning this fight puts me in line with all the elite fighters in the world of welterweights. I know I’ll be fighting a big name.”
But first things first.
Porter is no walk in the park, far from it, and Brook will enter the ring as the underdog.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that Porter has been on American TV a lot of late, impressively taking down a string of high-level opponents.
Brook has only fought once in the United States—a 2011 knockout win over Luis Galarza in Atlantic City—and he doesn’t have near the profile of other undefeated welterweights like Porter and Keith Thurman.
So does Brook worry about the possibility of not getting a fair shake from judges on foreign soil?
“Yes, of course, it goes through your mind, but I think the entire world is going to be watching," Brook said. "It’s a hard division, and to win I have to be winning clearly, so all the world’s going to see it."
He just feels that he has to leave no question.
“Obviously, they’re going to remind me, I think, in my own country, but I think, in this fight, it’s going to be so clear who the winner is, there’s not going to be no doubt.”
Porter has been described as a grinder in the ring. He doesn’t give his opponent much space to work or get comfortable, and the physical and mental pressure he creates helps him break down his foe.
But Brook, who has 32 professional wins of his own against no defeats, doesn’t worry about styles.
He feels that everything Porter will bring to the ring is something he’s seen before.
There will be no surprises.
“We’ve been having the sparring, watching Porter," Brook said. "We know it’s going to be a tough fight, we know that he’s seasoned and a professional. We know it’s going to be tough, but that’s what we prepare for, so that’s what it is.
“I think I’ve fought every kind of talent. I think that I’ve been boxing 20 years now, and I’ve been in there with every style there is. His style is not going to surprise me. I’ve dealt with that style, and boxing, to me, just comes natural, so there you go with that.”
Both Brook and Porter are young, undefeated fighters in the primes of their careers.
Neither man has ever suffered the disappointment associated with defeat in a professional ring, but that will change in all likelihood for one of them on Saturday night.
Porter, at least according to most fan and media accounts, is the better-known commodity and the favorite to walk out of the ring with his championship in tow.
But that doesn’t bother Brook. He’s not looking to surprise anyone.
He’s just looking to show what he can do, to the fans and especially Porter.
“I don’t think [the fans will] be surprised," he said. "I think that it is what it is. They’re going to see what Kell Brook can really do, and, in fact, everyone around the world is going to see why they do call me “The Special One,” and you’re going to see me at my best.
“I think [Porter] knows that he’s up against someone who’s 32-0, who’s passionate about actually becoming world champion, and he’s probably seen the cat-like reaction. I’m a big welterweight and strong and determined. I think that he can maybe see it in my eyes that I’m not coming to lay down. I’m coming to lay it on the line. I’m a lion, and I’m coming to take that title.”
Kevin McRae is a featured boxing columnist for Bleacher Report and an auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.