TWENTY-FOUR hours ago, it seemed Kell Brook was all out of ideas, frozen out of fights, injury-ravaged and on the brink of retirement.
Today, however, quite the opposite is true. Brook, rather than announce his apparently imminent retirement, has come out and reiterated his desire to continue boxing. Not only that, he has pinpointed WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford as the immediate object of his affection.
“I just wanted to address some speculation circling around my retirement. I’m not sure where these reports have surfaced from but I have NOT retired,” Brook confirmed on social media.
“I have had some time away from the ring but my team have been proactively looking to secure them (sic) big fights. We went to New York because we want to fight Crawford. These are the level of fights that get me excited and I’d only ever want to bow out on a high, putting on an exciting show for my fans who have always shown incredible support. If these big fights can be made, then I’d love nothing more than to dance again under them (sic) bright lights.
“So until you hear from me, know that ‘The Special One’ still has a few more special nights in store for you guys.”
Still to appear in a ring in 2019, Brook was last seen labouring to a unanimous decision win against Australian Michael Zerafa in December. Far from a vintage performance, all the signs pointed to a former IBF welterweight champion perhaps on the slide, with defeats to the likes of Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jnr, both of which were punishing, catching up on Brook, 38-2 (26). He will steadfastly reject the idea, as he today rejected the idea of retirement, but Brook knows, deep down, he’s nearing the end, if not quite there yet.
Another welterweight nearing the end of the road is legendary Filipino Manny Pacquiao, who fights Keith Thurman, a man 10 years his junior, on July 20 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, 41 in December, is on a good run of form at the moment, having scored back-to-back wins over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, yet is clearly slower than he was in his prime and is now reaching the point where he could, on any given night, all of a sudden become vulnerable in the ring.
If in doubt, all he has to do is remember what happened to Zab Judah a couple of weeks ago. Judah, another former welterweight champion, sustained a serious brain injury following a knockout loss against Cletus Seldin but thankfully seems to have made a full recovery.
Even so, the incident raised concerns not only for Judah but for all the other ageing prizefighters still flogging their wares in pursuit of money or affirmation, and Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s old promoter, has expressed fears of his own ahead of the multi-weight great’s encounter with Thurman.
“Look, I love Manny Pacquiao,” Arum said. “I have a whole history with Manny Pacquiao. I’m really rooting for Manny Pacquiao. But you’ve got to realise that he’s 41 years of age [in December], and when a fighter has been around so long, passes his late 30s and goes into his 40s, he’s not going to be as good as he was in his prime.
“I wish him the best and I hope he wins the fight but I am concerned, as I would be for any fighter, that when they get to a certain age that they probably should not be fighting anymore.
“The doctors will tell you that the cranium, as you get older, thins out. So, a guy that’s younger gets hit and the cranium absorbs the blow so that it doesn’t affect the brain matter.
“When they get older the cranium is thinner, and when you get hit it affects them. That would be the worst thing in the world if Manny Pacquiao suffered brain damage at this point. Zab Judah is a perfect example of how dangerous it is for a guy to continue fighting into his 40s.”
While the concern is no doubt a valid one, the comparison to Judah is perhaps unfair. Judah, after all, has lost four of his last seven fights and was clearly not the fighter of old. Pacquiao, on the other hand, is still managing to record victories against younger fighters despite his advancing age, slowing reflexes and history of ring wars.
Pacquiao, 61-7-2 (39), seemingly knows the difference. He also has God on his side.
“God is always there to protect me and there’s nothing to worry about,” ‘Pac-Man’ told The Manila Times. “God is good all the time.”
For fighters who make boxing and money their God, however, the going isn’t always so good.