IN the wake of his stoppage loss to Errol Spence Jnr at the weekend, during which he suffered a broken eye socket, Kell Brook has received criticism for voluntarily taking a knee to end the fight.
The Sheffield star made a bright start but his left eye socket was broken in the seventh round before he was dropped and eventually stopped in the 11th when he took a knee and was counted out.
Last September Brook moved to middleweight and was stopped in five by Gennady Golovkin after breaking his right eye socket.
Former world lightweight challenger John Murray was forced to retire from boxing in 2014 due to a detached retina, which has left him effectively blind in his right eye. He firmly believes Brook did the right thing by ending the fight.
“He’s had the fight with Golovkin that’s given him an injury to start with. It’s a completely different injury to what I had, I had a detached retina and there’s no pain whatsoever while you’re fighting when that happens, but I imagine a fractured eye socket would be very, very painful,” he told Boxing News.
“It’s not something you can just block with your glove because that’ll still cause a lot of pain. No one knows what pain he felt in there, you can’t sit on the couch and say he should slug it out for a couple more rounds when you don’t know what that pain’s like.
“If he’s got a fractured socket obviously in the back of his mind he’s thinking ‘I might go blind.’ He’s got to take into consideration his own health.”
When Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle, rightfully threw in the towel to end the Golovkin fight, he too was criticised by some observers for ending things too early. Brook has been dubbed a ‘quitter‘ by some fans, and even other fighters, since the Spence bout.
Murray’s eye problems began before his final fight, a stoppage loss to Anthony Crolla, and if he had known how serious things were he admits he would have retired much earlier.
“With my injury, I didn’t know I was going to be blind, it was the last thing on my mind, I just thought it was swollen and shut tight,” he said. “If I knew I was going to go blind I’d have never taken another fight. If he’s worried about going blind he’s right to stop the fight.
“It’s only a sport at the end of the day and you only get one pair of eyes. It’s not as if you go blind, you get more money. Nothing like that. You just lose your eye. In boxing, once you go blind, you go blind and that’s it. There’s no need to be a hero, you’re not going to get anything for it.”
Murray is now a burgeoning trainer with his own gym in Reddish and says he has learned to cope with only being able to see out of one eye. He can use stairs fine, but admits that judging distance can be difficult.
Brook is set to have surgery on his eye and intends to continue his boxing career, most likely up at super-welterweight. Murray knows that Brook had no obligation to risk permanent damage to his eyesight by continuing his fight with Spence.
“Looking back, if I’d known I had a problem with my eye I wouldn’t have had my last three or four fights,” he reiterated. “You just get stuck into that routine where you need the money and you need to fight. If I could go back, would I give up my eye to have those fights? No I wouldn’t. There’s always ways to make money. Being a hero in the ring, you don’t get anything for it once you retire.
“It’s a brutal, brutal game. Don’t take any chances with it, there’s no point. It’s dangerous enough anyway so if there’s an extra risk and you know it, get yourself out of that ring as fast as you can.”