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

Boxing News - - Contents - De­clan Tay­lor

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

Pho­tos: AC­TION IM­AGES/LEE SMITH

ALL SMILES: Brook emerges from a harder than an­tic­i­pated ght with vic­tory

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