Is Kell Brook’s Career Over?

Four years is a long time in the career of a prime athlete. This week, British boxer Kell Brook’s probably feels like he understands that fact a lot better than most people do. Four years ago, he was undefeated, and he was the reigning IBF welterweight champion of the world. Today he’s been beaten three times, and he might just have made his final attempt at recapturing a world championship. In fact, he might have stepped into the ring as a professional boxer for the final time in his illustrious career. If that’s true, the sport has just lost one of the most underrated fighters of the past decade. 

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Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Until Brook came up against Gennady Golovkin in 2016, he was unstoppable. He might even have been able to put up a better fight against the fearsome Kazakhstani fighter on that fateful September night, was it not for the fact that one of Golovkin’s punches broke his eye socket – an injury from which many fans fear that he never truly recovered. Looking back at what happened next, Brook probably tried to make a comeback from that injury too quickly. He was back in the ring the following May, taking on America’s Errol Spence jr. Brook controlled much of the fight, but a Spence punch broke his eye socket again, and the Sheffield-born boxer found himself taking a second successive defeat and landing back at square one with his recovery. He learned his lesson this time. It would be almost a full year until he got back in the ring, and this time he was victorious against Sergey Rabchenko. He followed that up with wins against Michael Zerafa and Mark DeLuca before deciding to go for broke one more time against Terence Crawford – a many who many observers believe is the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. 

By the time you read this, you’ll already know what happened next. Brook was a heavy underdog with bookmakers and sports betting companies coming into the right, and the bookies weren’t wrong. Crawford sent Brook reeling with a huge right hand during the fourth round, with only the ropes preventing Brook from hitting the mat. The Englishman survived a standing eight count from the referee, but the damage was done. Six straight punches to the head later, the referee was forced to step in and end the contest before Brook suffered serious harm. Had he not done so, it was likely that Brook’s corner would have thrown the towel in within a matter of seconds. Brook was done, and Crawford is still the world’s champion. Brook would go on to say after the match that nobody he’d ever come up against in his career had ever done what Crawford had done to him

Boxing at any level is a gamble. No matter what the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent might be, and no matter what the odds say, you’re only ever one well-placed punch away from a victory or a shock defeat. Sometimes you can ride your luck for a long time, but you can’t ride it forever. Like a player at an online slots website continuing to sink money into the same slot, you’ll eventually run out of bankroll and be forced to step away if you keep on spinning. You can only continue to play Playtech slots so long as wins keep coming in. Those wins sustain you during your losses and ensure that you still have something in reserve. 

Only a fool continues to play online slots with money that they can’t afford to lose. Only a fool will continue to box if they have nothing left in the tank. At the age of 34, with three defeats in his past six fights and no obvious route back to a world championship, Brook might be forced to conclude that he’s not a fool, and the right time to walk away is right now. 

boxing 1024x680 - Is Kell Brook's Career Over? 
Image by Rodger Shija from Pixabay

If Kell Brook’s were to read this, he’d accept that we’re not telling him anything that he doesn’t already know. He considered retirement the second time he broke his eye socket and had already suggested in the press that he might retire no matter what the result of this fight was. If he’d won it, he would have climbed to the pinnacle of his division and had nothing left to prove. Having lost it, he’s now had it confirmed to him – albeit in brutal fashion – that he doesn’t have what it takes to dethrone the man at the top of the mountain. Either way, there doesn’t appear to be anything left for him to do in boxing. An all-British showdown between Brook and Amir Khan, which has been talked about for years but has never come close to being booked, now appears doomed never to happen. Khan has appeared to be all-but-retired since fighting against a mismatched opponent in the shape of Billy Dibb in Saudi Arabia in 2019. Brook might now join him in retirement. 

If this really is the end for Kell Brook, he should remember that there’s no disgrace in losing to a better opponent. It isn’t without reason that Terence Crawford is considered the best in the world, and the fact that Crawford has never been beaten isn’t a coincidence. Many people would have retired after suffering one broken eye socket. Brook came back from two. Having made that comeback in his mid-thirties, he didn’t shy away from making one more run at the top. He stepped up to Crawford and gave him everything he had. For three rounds, he was very competitive. He’ll be remembered as a great fighter within his division, a former world champion, and a resilient character who has given boxing fans – especially those in his home country – many great memories. It’s a shame that he never received the acclaim that he deserved in the United States of America, but such is life. 

Kell Brook’s record says that he never ducked a fight, he never backed away from a challenge, and he overcame adversity again and again. He was a real boxer’s boxer, and if he decides that this is the right time to hang up his gloves, he’s earned his retirement. Thanks for the memories, Kell – you’ve been fantastic.