Stuttering Kell Brook wins but struggles to impress against Zerafa in Sheffield

Kell Brook arrived in Santa shorts '“ and duly delivered the gift of victory to his Sheffield Arena fans.

Michael Zerafa (left) and Kell Brook in action on Saturday night..

But it was one of those Christmas presents that was, well, nice but not quite what we had all wanted.

We had sat back and waited for him to unwrap a big, flashy knockout win over an Australian opponent who some thought was not fit to lace Kell’s gloves.

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Instead, Michael Zerafa can fly the 10,500 miles back home to Melbourne with his reddened, bruised head held high.

We had expected ‘Pommie-Granite’ from Brook – that the Briton would put the challenger Down Under in the early rounds.

Instead, Brook – having started with promise – did not unleash the sustained power we have come to admire.

And on several occasions when he did land blows they boomeranged back in Saturday’s WBA super welterweight title eliminator.

As a spectacle it was not as damp a squib as Brook’s under-achieving performance against Carson Jones in 2012.

Kell Brook (left) and Michael Zerafa in action during the Final Eliminator WBA Super-Welterweight Championship at the FlyDSA Arena. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

But it did fall disappointingly short in entertainment value, compared to the colourful Jono Carroll IBF final eliminator with Frenchman Guillaume Frenois that had preceded it and ended in a blood-curdling draw.

The fans love Kell in the fight city of Sheffield.

But some felt he was too one-dimensional on Saturday night, were worried when he got caught on the ropes, and wanted to see more head movement and repeatedly begged him to go for the body.

Obligingly, the taller Australian had kept crouching low, allowing Brook to try to rain down chopping shots, but the rusty Sheffielder missed too often.

Michael Zerafa (left) and Kell Brook in action at the FlyDSA Arena. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

It was interesting to hear contrasting views expressed in the ring immediately after the 118-10, 119-109, 117-111 points win.

Brook, who had attracted overwhelming fight odds of 1-50 to win, admitted he had been flat, but insisted that he had undergone his best training camp, under John Fewkes, and he said ‘the Special One’ would be special again.

“Normally I’m sharp, but I couldn’t let that right hand go. In training I’ve been exceptional, but at least I’ve got the win,” he said before walking with sullen face back to the dressing room.

Fewkes – whose contribution was no doubt analysed by former trainer Dom Ingle, a spectator in the crowd – felt the 32-year-old had boxed okay.

“People have big expectations of Kell, but for me he boxed well. He came through 12 rounds and the things we were working on worked.

“The reason he got hit too much was because he was trying too hard,” volunteered Fewkes.

But neither view chimed with promoter Eddie Hearn, who is not afraid to criticise his own man when he thinks it is fair.

“Kell knows that was below par. If I was Amir Khan I’d be on the phone now” he said.

Brook would accept a reverse charge call.

He said: “I want to make it public I will agree to 147lb and the rehydration (10lb clause) for Khan.

“The time is now. Give the fans the fight they want. 2019 I’m on a mission.”

If anything good is to come out of Saturday night it may be Khan feeling Brook is now well past his sell-by date and more easily beatable. He might just sign the deal – but then again.

At any rate, Brook’s underwhelming win had at least edged him closer to a fight against Jarrett Hurd, who holds the WBA and IBF super-welterweight titles.

And Brook did not do too badly after that Carson Jones flop – within two years of it, he was world champion.