Kell Brook says he is determined to prove he can still compete at the highest level after questioning his desire to return to the ring following a shattering loss at Bramall Lane last May.
Sheffield’s ‘Special One’ steps up to super welterweight tomorrow night at the FlyDSA Arena in his home town, 10 months after suffering a defeat that nearly ended his career.
Brook suprisingly surrendered his IBF world welterweight title against talented American Errol Spence Jr, a defeat that left him with a fractured eye socket and serious questions about his motivation to continue as a fighter.
That setback came on the back of a September 2016 loss to Gennady Golovkin in a bout in which Brook earned as many plaudits for stepping up to fight the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world as he had done for any of his previous 36 fights in which he had gone undefeated.
But after being given the all-clear by doctors to return to the ring, Brook appeared as confident as ever when he met the media yesterday ahead of his bout with Belarussian Sergey Rabchenko for the WBC Silver super-welterweight crown.
“I’m not used to losing, but I’ve had two in a row,” said Brook, 31.
“The first one I jumped up to middleweight from welterweight against the most feared man in world boxing in Golovkin, so you can’t really take that as a loss really as it wasn’t my natural weight and it was a risk.
“Losing to Spence is a different kettle of fish as it was at welterweight and the other eye got smashed in and I lost my world title.
“That really hurt me badly, it took me a long time to get over that. I know that I’ve got a lot left in me, people are right to question what I’ve got left and how I am going to be after the injuries and the defeats, but I believe I am going to be the same fighter, I’ll be better in fact with the bigger weight, which will bring the best out of me.
“I want to show everyone that I can still perform at a very high level and that I’ve still got it.
“I can’t wait to test out my new skills at a higher weight. I’m on weight now, I’m not worried about it and I’m looking forward to smiling and performing.”
It will certainly be good to see the flamboyant Brook back in the ring with his natural swagger, which was glaring by its absence in the wake of the defeat to Spence Jr at the home of his beloved Sheffield United.
“I do regret the Spence fight looking back,” said Brook.
“I was in Sheffield, we’d sold a load of tickets and we were in a football stadium – but going from middleweight down to welterweight was too much and it just drained me.
“But I was a proud champion and I never duck anyone.”
To that end, he was keen to return with a fight against an opponent of considerable standing, which Rabchenko certainly is.
The 32-year-old also has two defeats on his record, against 29 wins, making him a tricky opponent at the top of tomorrow’s bill, and one Brook is familiar with.
“Rabchenko is a dangerous guy, he’s no mug and he can really bang. I’ve sparred with him and if you were to go on the sparring, it’s going to be one hell of a fight,” said Brook.
“I didn’t want an easy fight back. If I had done, I could’ve fallen out of love with it, cut corners and not reached the heights in training that I need to reach to be the best Kell Brook.
“It’s going to be very tough. I’ve never seen him looking as slim and as in shape. He’s trained very hard for this fight.
“He was tough, very strong, a clever fighter. I know I’m going to have my hands full, but that is why I picked him because I don’t want an easy ride.”
On whether his eyes can stand up to the punishment of resuming his career, Brook added: “The eye has healed very well.
“It’s held up in sparring and I don’t think about the eye injuries at all.
“I wouldn’t be boxing if I wasn’t given the all-clear by the doctors, I wouldn’t put my family or myself through that.”