Undefeated welterweight star Kell Brook had another solid season, remaining unbeaten as he closed in on his dream of a World title.
In July, Brook overcame the biggest test of his career when he beat Carson Jones, number three in the IBF rankings before the fight, via a majority decision in an IBF World welterweight eliminator at the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield.
Brook was well on top after the first half of the fight but the hard-hitting American tagged the Sheffield star in the seventh and blood poured from his broken nose for the rest of the fight. Brook had to go to a place he’d never been in his career to date as Jones continued to ask serious questions of the unbeaten 26 year old, but ultimately Kell did enough to be awarded the fight by two judges, with the third calling it a draw.
The Special One started 2012 well when, on March 17, he comprehensively beat tough Mancunian Matthew Hatton in front a packed Motorpoint Arena. That was the Sheffield star's fourth fight since joining Eddie Hearn's blossoming stable in April 2011 and took his winning streak to 27 fights.
Brook had already impressed in his first three outings as a Matchroom Sport fighter during two sold-out hometown shows followed by his American debut just before Christmas.
Luis Galarza stood in Brook's way on his American bow in Atlantic City on December 17, and the Sheffield man announced himself to a new audience in style, unloading his full repertoire of skills before the referee ended the action in the fifth round.
Brook earned his US showcase after two excellent headline acts in the Steel City earlier in the year. His first outing under the Matchroom Sport banner was against Lovemore N'dou in June - by Brook's own admission the first real test of his career. He sold out the Hillsbrough Leisure Centre against the teak-tough South African former World title holder, and showed that he was ready to mix it at world level with a comprehensive points decision earned Brook the Inter-Continental strap.
A harder test was to follow in October and Brook met it with the best performance of his career. Rugged and highly ranked Pole Rafal Jackiewicz came to the Hillsbrough Leisure Centre promising to rock Brook but the hometown man put in a punch-perfect performance to stop Jackiewicz in the sixth round.
The 25 year-old’s road to the top began in September 2004, when he won his first professional fight at 18 years of age against Peter Buckley at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. Brook’s next three fights were a sign of things to come as he removed Andy Cosnett and Brian Coleman inside the opening round and Leeroy Williamson in the second.
A year after turning pro he earned his ninth straight victory with a points triumph over Ernie Smith and repeated the feat in a rematch in April 2006 to go 10-0.
Brook continued to make short work of anyone he faced with five of his next six wins coming inside the distance and with 16 wins to his name he earned his first title shot. Barrie Jones was the opponent at York Hall for the vacant British Welterweight title and Brook claimed the belt with a seventh round stoppage of the Welshman in June 2008 – which remains the longest time he’s been in the ring in his pro career.
With his star rising, Brook seized his chance to shine in the public eye and made the most of his new high profile with some devastating defences of his new crown.
First on Kell’s hitlist was Scotsman Kevin McIntyre, who vacated the belt earlier in the year. McIntyre promised revenge and had a fevered home crowd behind him in Glasgow but Brook silenced them and any doubters with a stunning display as he floored the Scotsman three times inside the first round to retain the belt.
Next up for Brook was Stuart Elwell at York Hall in January 2009 and it was another clinical display as Elwell took two standing counts in the first before being stopped in the second. The M.E.N Arena in Manchester was the venue for Brook’s third defence and he ended the challenge of Michael Lomax in the third round – blasting out the Prizefighter Welterweight’s champion to claim the Lonsdale belt outright. In September 2009, Brook was named as the Young British Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writer’s Club, pipping Nathan Cleverly to the honour previously awarded to Barry McGuigan, Nigel Benn, Prince Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe and Amir Khan.
In March 2010 Brook moved closer to a World title by taking the WBO Inter-Continental title, from Krzysztof Bienias at the ECHO Arena in Liverpool. Bienias proved a tough character for Brook to break down in the opening rounds but the Sheffield man punished the champion in the third, fourth and fifth rounds and finished the job in the sixth.