Brook labours to victory against Zerafa, while the co-feature ends in a draw
Kell gets the job done against Zerafa, but it isn’t pretty
ALTHOUGH this did not quite develop into a nightmare before Christmas for Kell Brook, resplendent in his Santa Claus-inspired shorts, it was not the gift many expected.
Brook started as a hot 1/20 favourite against unfancied Michael Zerafa, the 26-year-old “Pretty Boy” from Melbourne.
Sheffield’s son was expected to surge past his Australian visitor in style, setting up a big 2019 which could finally include the long-awaited Battle of Britain with Amir Khan, as well as world title shots at either welterweight or super-welter.
This showdown with Zerafa was tagged as a final eliminator for a crack at the WBA’S 154lb king Jarrett Hurd, and Brook’s uninspiring 12-round decision victory at least secured that mandatory position. But Hurd, had he been watching, would have licked his lips at the prospect of a challenge from “The Special One”.
After a brisk walk to the ring, 32-yearold Brook appeared to be in a hurry and started well behind his perfectly timed jab, which often preceded the trademark right uppercut. It looked like an early night could be in the offing.
As Zerafa returned to his corner at the end of the first, his face was already marking up badly and Brook, who weighed in at just over 150lbs for the contest, appeared to be enjoying himself.
But Zerafa settled in the second round and began to use his superior reach to establish the jab. As such, Brook’s heavy attacks grew less frequent, allowing the Australian to gain some much-needed confidence.
Not that he was winning rounds, although he did land some eye-catching shots of his own against an opponent who appeared to have no respect for the visitor, marching forward onto a series of straight right hands. “I tried a bit too hard early on,” Brook said later. “I wanted to get him out. Once I realised I was not going to, I let him into it and took one or two silly shots.” Brook, in his first fight under new trainer and former amateur rival John Fewkes, even had to emerge from his own mini-crisis in the ninth round when Zerafa landed a big right hand, which sent the favourite back to the ropes. He shipped a few more while he was there, but managed to dig in and fire back. There would, however, be no stoppage for the EX-IBF welter champ, who was handed a unanimous decision by the judges. Stefano Carozza had it 118-110, Jan Christensen 119-109 and Steve Gray slightly closer at 117-111. Michael Alexander was the referee. There was almost complete silence in the half-full Sheffield Arena when Michael Buffer announced the scores, which rather summed up the flat performance. “It was an ugly night but we got the win,” Brook added. “Now I hope the
people out there running away see the performance and think they can come and get me while I am on the slide.
“All people ever ask me is, ‘When will you fight Amir Khan?’ I am ready. Let’s talk numbers. I bet he is rubbing his hands thinking, ‘I can do this kid.’
“It has to happen now, when we are on the same promoter [Matchroom Boxing]. Now is the time to make it for March.”
In the absence of Josh Kelly, who withdrew from his scheduled contest with David Avanesyan through illness on fight day, Jono Carroll met Guillaume
Frenois in an all-southpaw chief support. Victory for either would have secured a crack at IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer, but those waters were muddied slightly when Mr Alexander’s 114-114 card resulted in a split draw. Vincent Dupas scored it 115113 to Frenois, while Joerg Milke gave Carroll the nod by the same margin. Marcus Mcdonnell officiated,
The Dubliner had made a fast start and racked up a healthy early lead, but Frenois, of Aisne, France, found his feet in the middle rounds. He counterpunched his way back into the fight and even Eddie Hearn thought he had done enough to win.
“Hats off to both guys, an incredible fight,” Hearn said. “I thought at the end of it, Frenois deserved the victory. I told Jono that, too.”
Now Hearn, who promotes Farmer as well as Carroll, must decide whether to stage a rematch or set up a Farmercarroll bout straight away.
Liverpool’s Anthony Fowler made light work of Jose Carlos Paz of Cordoba, Argentina, stopping him with a body shot after just 1-33 of round one (set for 10). Mr Gray refereed. Elsewhere, Leeds lefty Qais Ashfaq forced the corner of Liverpool’s Jay Carney to throw in the towel after 45 seconds of the fifth and penultimate round. Referee Gray seemed close to waving it off anyway.
Kid Galahad was taken the distance by tough Nicaraguan Brayan Mairena. Referee John Latham gave the local man an 80-72 win. Mr Latham was also in charge as Terri Harper ended her scheduled six-twos bout against Tanzania’s Feriche Mashauri after just 1-25 of the second. The Denaby resident looks like one to watch.
Sheffield duo Anthony Tomlinson and Shakiel Thompson were insidethe-distance winners. Tomlinson ended his slated eight-rounder with Hollandbased Nigerian Innocent Anyanwu after 2-23 of round five, with Mr Latham in charge. Meanwhile, Mr Gray waved off Thompson’s four-rounder with Bulgarian
Konstantin Alexandrov after 1-48 of round three. Lastly, Eckington’s Callum Hancock was taken the course by
Bulgaria’s Ivan Nikolov, but won 40-36 for Mr Gray.
THE VERDICT An insipid, forgettable night for Brook, who must improve with big fights on the horizon.
FAST START: Brook clouts Zerafa with his right but he will go on to take plenty himself
CHANCE MISSED: Carroll digs to to the body but victory eludes him
ALL SMILES: Brook emerges from a harder than anticipated ght with victory