By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
When he emerged with a majority decision victory from last July’s tougher than expected test in Carson Jones, Kell Brook was on the brink of the big time, one fight away from a world title shot. Having come through that gut check with his unbeaten record intact the Sheffield stylist was glad to see the back of Jones. Yet almost exactly a year later, he’ll be stepping through the ropes to meet the man who gave him hell once again.
That’s what will happen this Saturday when Brook (29-0, 19 KO’s) rematches Jones (35-9-3, 25 KO’s) at Hull’s Craven Park, on the undercard of Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell’s professional debut. Not where Brook expected to be following his three-round destruction of Hector Saldivia in October, his only outing since the first fight with Jones and a win that made him mandatory for Devon Alexander’s welterweight crown.
Not once, not twice, but on three occasions a fight with Alexander fell through and a chance for Kell to lift the IBF title evaporated into an eight-month lay off. With a world title challenge gone and momentum dwindling a rematch with Jones was as good a comeback fight as any. A chance to beat Jones more convincingly, exorcise some demons in the process and put injury setbacks behind him.
Ankle and metatarsal injuries sustained by Brook were the cause of two cancellations to the Alexander fight, though through the grapevine you’ll hear that there’s another reason why the bout never materialised. It’s long been rumoured that Brook has trouble making weight at 147lbs, evident when he faded in his last meeting with Jones and the primary reason why the rematch takes place at a 150lb catchweight.
Questions have been raised about the 27-year-old’s diet and conditioning and Brook needs to be impressive on Saturday to silence his growing army of critics. If stamina is an issue, particularly after a long injury lay-off, at least the rematch takes place over ten rounds and not the full distance.
Carson Jones has in recent years proved to be a much better fighter than his record suggests and having been matched tough and often throughout his career has a wealth more experience in the professional ring than Brook. Despite being the more experienced fighter, he’s also the younger man too at twenty-six. In their first meeting, he came to fight in tremendous condition and kept the pressure on Brook all night, bloodying Brook’s nose and almost forcing a late stoppage with the home fighter on weary legs.
He’s had setbacks of his own in the last year however including a twice-cancelled fight with Lee Purdy and against the Essex banger’s late replacement Dean Byrne last December he struggled to an eight-round draw. Motivation was clearly a factor there though and in one outing since he stopped Travis Hartman in three rounds. Jones could well be something of an enigma, but given this fight’s magnitude and the opportunities that would present themselves should he win, he’ll no doubt be in fantastic condition once again and Brook will bring the best out of him.
So how will Brook return from his lay-off with less than three rounds of action in the past year? Which Carson Jones will turn up? One thing we know is that there’s potential for a competitive and gruelling fight here, because that’s exactly what we had when they met last July.
What we also know from that fight however is that Brook was easily outboxing Jones until the sixth round and that his stamina issues combined with Jones’s heart and resilience saw the American dominate the second-half of the fight. This is a ten-rounder however so there is less of a window for Brook to fade down the stretch and he knows if he can repeat what he was doing in the early part of the last fight and maintain it for longer here, he has Jones’s number.
On the flipside, Jones knows if he can get through Brook’s guard he can test the Sheffield native’s steel and he’ll be looking to start doing that earlier in this fight, because he has too. This is a tough fight to call in my opinion as I actually had the first bout a draw and there’s a number of factors we can’t be sure of going into the rematch.
I’ve got to give Brook the edge though as at his best he has the tools to beat Jones quite comfortably, but I’m not convinced he’ll be at his best and I think he’ll have a tough night again with the fight going the full ten rounds. My pick would be by Brook by competitive decision, with six or seven rounds clearly in his favour.