A pre-fight press conference in the sport of boxing is an event in itself these days.
So many have descended into the first round of fighting between the headline acts with heads butted and punches thrown that one never can tell if such hystrionics are about to be sparked.
There were no blows landed at Bramall Lane yesterday, where Kell Brook was speaking publically for the final time ahead of his fight with Australia’s Michael Zerafa in a final eliminator for the WBA super welterweight title at Sheffield Arena tomorrow night.
But it was no less grand an occasion in the final push to promote this Saturday super bill in the Steel City.
The Platinum Suite at Sheffield United’s football ground was a packed house of reporters, trainers, interested observers and security types intent on looking menacing.
Mobile television sets popped up in three of the four corners. There was even a bag search upon entrance.
And as is the Matchroom pomp nowadays, the man on the mic was none other than Michael Buffer, the silky voiced ring announcer swapping Las Vegas for south Sheffield for one week only.
All this just to promote the fight. But even then, as ever in boxing, it was not just about ‘this fight’, it was about the one around the corner or in the case of Brook, the one that might never happen.
While Zerafa is a credible opponent, he should not cause too much alarm for a Sheffield fighter saying he feels ‘reborn’ and ‘like a teenager again’.
For Brook, tomorrow night is a stepping stone back to the top table, one that he is increasingly unlikely to be sharing anytime soon with Amir Khan.
I’ve got that buzz again, I’ve got many years left, I want to fight the best.Kell Brook
Brook and Khan have been on a collision course for years, one that had accelerated recently due to the high-profile Bolton man linking up with the Matchroom stable on a three-fight deal.
Verbal sparring between the pair has taken place on social media and at ringside but the rehydration clause Khan insists on being inserted looks set to be the sticking point.
Not that negotiations got that far, says Brook, who yesterday appeared sick to the back teeth of having to answer questions about Khan, especially now the former Olympic silver medallist is set to use his final Matchroom fight to meet WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford next year.
“Amir Khan is a con man, they should call him Amir Con,” said Brook, 32, before turning to promoter Eddie Hearn and quipping: “he’s mugged you off Eddie.
“This is his last fight under Matchroom. I thought our fight was nailed on.
“He shook my hand and looked me dead in the eyes at Tony Bellew’s last fight and said: ‘we will fight next’.
“What can I do? I’ve bent over backwards.
“I’m sick to death talking about it. I’ve said I’ll come to 147, we’ve not even talked about rehydration.
“It’s never got that far, we need him to come to the table to get it on.
“I’ve done everything I can for the fans but he’s turned his back on the fans. He keeps saying that I have but I think everybody knows it’s him that’s running off,” he added.
Brook looked in no mood to be running scared of anyone and is already shifting his mid-term focus away from Khan.
Tomorrow’s bout might be at 154lbs in the super welterweight division but for a big fight next year he is also open to dropping back down to 147lbs for welterweight, at which he was IBF world champion before his shock loss to Errol Spence Jnr at Bramall Lane 18 months ago.
Spence, WBC champion Shawn Porter – the man he won the world title from – Crawford, WBA champion Keith Thurman, former two-weight world champion Danny Garcia and WBA light middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd are all potential opponents for Brook in 2019.
“Shawn Porter has the WBC title, he’s there if he wants a rematch,” said Brook.
“Errol Spence: I would love to bring him back in the summer and get the win, because I’m an animal. I feel reborn.
“I’ve got that buzz again, I’ve got many years left, I want to fight the best.”
First though, he has to take care of business against Zerafa, an Australian with only two defeats on his record.
“Kell Brook has done a lot of great things in the fight game,” said Zerafa, 26.
“His name is a world title for me.”