KELL BROOK was dramatically dethroned of his IBF welterweight title after another eye injury scuppered him during an enthralling 11-round battle against American conqueror Errol Spence Jr at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Brook suffered a similar injury to the one Gennady Golovkin inlficted on him in September, this time to his left eye, the injury tipping the fight towards the Texan visitor Spence Jr.
The Sheffield man was taken straight to hospital and scans revealed a broken eye socket.
Brook said: “They kept me in until about 3am. I had a CT scan on my eye and the eye is broken again, same as the Golovkin one, so, maybe surgery again.”
The injury guided the fight towards Spence after a see-saw seven rounds of action where neither boxer could get on top of the other with any sustained pressure.
Spence Jr landed two crisp counter left hands in the seventh and despite moments of success from Brook, the unbeaten American took over and started to get into a clinical rhythm.
Brook gamely battled on in a dramatic 10th round where he was forced to take a knee before referee Howard Foster appeared on the verge of stepping in and stopping the fight, the Sheffield man fighting back on the ropes and looking to land a huge shot to turn the fight back in his favour.
Brook couldn’t keep Spence Jr off him any longer though and after more punishment in the 11th, he took a knee again and the fight was over.
“I’m devastated,” said Brook. “I knew from round seven that the eye had gone and progressively as the rounds went on. I tried to get through the fight and it kept going double vision and then coming back into line.
“In the later rounds 10 and 11, especially the 11th round, it stuck there and that’s why I went down on one knee and I remember the surgeon saying to me after the Golovkin fight if you would have gone another round or so you could be blind so I’ve got that going through my mind as well.
I knew from round seven that the eye had gone and progressively as the rounds went on. I tried to get through the fight and it kept going double vision and then coming back into line.Kell Brook
“I’m in my own city, I’m in Sheffield. I wear my heart on my sleeve. There were many things going through my mind but I remember thinking I live to fight another day.
“If the eye hadn’t have gone I think the fight would have mapped out a little bit differently but it is what it is and I didn’t get the win.”
Despite his long-time fierce rival Amir Khan, who received a hostile reception as he entered the stadium, stating his intent to finally meet Brook in the ring in 2018, the Sheffield boxer is now likely to move up in weight classes after struggling to get back down to 147lbs for this fight.
“I think the time is now maybe to move up,” Brook added. “I’ve been making welterweight since I was a teenager. My first fight I was about nine or 10.
“I went up to middleweight in my last fight, I put a lot of muscle on and it was so hard to get to welterweight.”
When asked if he could retire after suffering two severe eye injuries in the space of eight months, Brook responded: “I couldn’t leave the sport like that. I need to get back in and get back to winning ways and show that I’ve got plenty more to give.”
Over 25,000 fans crammed into Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium and created an electric atmosphere throughout a card filled with Yorkshire-based fighters.
Brook added: “I’m devastated but I’m also happy because I’m hearing the fans had a great night and I’m walking out, looking up and thinking will this ever be done again? Seeing everybody at the Lane and the energy was fantastic.”
Spence Jr improved his unblemished record to 22 wins with 19 knockouts and set up a mouthwatering unification clash with fellow American Keith Thurman in the process.
“I showed what true champions do,” said the 27-year-old Texan. “I showed true grit, I showed I can take a punch. Kell Brook is a big welterweight, he’s very strong, fast and he can punch, he lived up to my expectations.
“It was a great crowd and I loved it, I used the crowd as a positive energy and used it as motivation to silence everybody.”