There have doubtless been some moving performances from those who have been treading the boards at Sheffield’s Montgomery Theatre over its 130-year-history.
But few will have been quite so genuine as world champion boxer Kell Brook’s, yesterday.
The historic venue was picked for Brook to announce his opponent for his first defence of his welterweight title, Ionut Dan Ion. But just as importantly, it heralds the first contest since Brook was left fighting for his life after a knifing in Tenerife last September.
In a macho sport, it is unusual to hear a boxer discuss his sincere inner feelings. But Brook, under the stage lighting that has seen thousands of acts, told it how it really was. “I feel so emotional sat here” he admitted. “Last year going to Carson (California) and doing what people thought I wouldn’t do and then a few weeks later having an horrific knife attack... then laying in a hospital bed thinking: ‘Will I ever walk again, never mind boxing?’
“Just to be sat here now and building this fight in a Sheffield homecoming it is emotional. It was baby steps at the beginning but I’m really fit and I’ve got nine weeks left to go.” Brook said his camp could have gone for an American opponent and charged Pay Per View. “But I’ve got the mandatory out of the way so he doesn’t come on later this Summer; I am after massive fights after this one.”
Brook says Romanian-born Ion would be a “tough customer” who will be “unbelievably hungry” to take his shot at the belt. “But he is in against me and I know what it took to win the world title and I know I am going to work twice as hard to keep hold of it. I am in my own town, I’ve brought the title back and I can’t wait to put on a massive show.”
n On the undercard, ticket-selling Dronfield middleweight Adam Etches will face Sergey Khomitsky, who beat Frank Buglioni last year.
The Ukranian lost to Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes four years ago.