After my Commonwealth Games singles win last month, former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Great stuff @nickmatthew .. confirming that Sheffield is the Mecca of Sport.”
Another Sheffielder in Kell Brook has the opportunity to prove this on Saturday night when he faces Shawn Porter for the IBF world welterweight title at the StubHub Center in California.
I don’t know Kell well. I’ve had a few chats with other boxers over the years. My sports therapist Derry Suter has a lot of links with boxers so I’ve got to know a few of them through him.
Kell trains at the Ingle Gym which has produced world champions such as Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson and Junior Witter. Sheffield has been a hotbed for boxing for the last decade or so. It’s been a conveyor belt and the Great Britain amateur boxing team are also based at the English Institute of Sport. The link with Sheffield and boxing is incredibly strong.
I have a lot of admiration for boxing. I’ve seen the physical training boxers do in the gym and the blows they can take are phenomenal. It’s brutal. You can make one mistake and that can be it.
It’s a sport where everybody talks a good game. You wonder whether the fighters genuinely don’t like each other at times or are they doing it on purpose just to promote the fight. You are never quite sure.
But I always feel with Kell that he conducts himself in a professional manner. He doesn’t seem to get involved in too many disrespectful exchanges. He lets his fighting do his talking which I like.
It does my head in seeing people like Amir Khan on TV all the time saying he wants to fight Floyd Mayweather when he’s lost three times. It seems you can only become a big name in boxing by talking a good game rather than by what you are doing in the ring. Let your talent do the talking. I think Kell does that and I really hope he gets his just rewards this weekend.
Because Kel has been’t shouting his name from the rooftops like other boxers, he’s not a household name. It’s the same with Kid Galahad. These guys are amazing boxers but they’ve not become big names yet.
Kell is unbeaten and it would be massive for Sheffield if he brought the world title home. It’s a big chance for him and hopefully he will be able to seize the moment.