Why a change of scene is giving Kell Brook the chance to silence his critics

Kell Brook in action
Kell Brook in action

Kell Brook has had more than his share of critics since landing the world title in May 2015.

The web became a toxic place, as people questioned the standards of the next three opponents after winning the IBF welterweight crown in America against Shawn Porter - who ironically went on to become the WBC title holder.

Michael Zerafa

Michael Zerafa

They queried his lifestyle.

And while nobody could take issues with his bravery, they seized on the so-called fragility of his facial bone structure, after he suffered broken eye sockets in losses to middleweight Gennady Golovkin and the new kid on the welterweight block, Errol Spence Jr.

Brook, 32, admits he has gone through some dark times.

And his easy defeat, last time out, of Siarhei Rabchanka at Sheffield Arena, served only for some to suggest that his opponent was too poor to be deemed a proper match.

Kid Galahad in the US

Kid Galahad in the US

With the much-vaunted Amir Khan fight still not tied down - it has become quite an irritating distraction - Brook found himself again in the firing line after deciding to pause his association with world-renowned trainer Dominic Ingle.

Brook shrugs this latest attack as he has the rest, as he prepares for next Saturday's Arena date with Australian super welterweight and unknown quantity Michael Zarafa, 26.

"Without question, people will be saying: 'Ha, he's going to go downhill, he's left the Ingle gym,' whatever.

"But that only motivates me more, I have got something to prove," Brook told The Star.

Ecstatic Kell Brook - he wants that feeling again

Ecstatic Kell Brook - he wants that feeling again

"I am in a fantastic place, every aspect of that you will see, and you should see the shape of me."

That is down to training in hot weather camp in Fuerteventura with a new training regime, headed by fellow Sheffielder John Fewkes.

He will be expected to beat Zarafa, dismissed as a mere tick-over fall-guy by Khan and other detractors.

But Brook is too experienced and streetwise to expect to simply turn up and claim victory.

"I am not complacent, but this is not about the opponent, it is about myself.

"I am listening to John, he has brought a different set of eyes to things - I think he has a very good eye outside of the ring.

"You are going to see an improvement in me, at Sheffield Arena.

"As for the fight, I feel it is not going to go on long" said Brook before embellishing the statement with some of his favourite sayings, this time all rolled into one: "I am a racing snake, my chocolate brownie is ready...and I am firing on all cylinders!"

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Kid Galahad's appearance on the undercard is an intriguing bonus for Sheffield fight fans.

For a start, he's trained by Dominic Ingle, the cornerman Kell Brook had for many years before enlisting the support of John Fewkes, a few weeks ago.

But also Galahad is motoring himself into a fight of truly epic size - and December 8 will be his chance to sharpen his tools before the big one.

The Wincobank featherweight wants to set up an all-Yorkshire World title battle with IBF champion Josh Warrington, after taking the mandatory position with a win over Toka Kahn Clary at the TD Garden in Boston last month.

He is awaiting the result of Warrington’s first defence against two-weight king Carl Frampton on December 22.

The 28-year-old, a former British, Commonwealth and European ruler, is rooting for Yorkshireman to defeat the Belfast star so they can set up a tasty local derby in 2019.

“I did what I needed to do against Clary,” said Galahad.

“He was very tricky and very awkward. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t knock him out to be honest with you. I knew it was going to be scrappy, he’s long and wiry, I had to break his spirit.

"I got the job done and now I’m looking forward to fighting back in Sheffield - I’ll be looking to end the year on a high.  

“I hope Josh gets the win against Frampton. That is a huge Yorkshire derby, Leeds versus Sheffield, that’s a big fight.

"Now I have the mandatory position, there’s no excuses, nowhere to run for Josh or Carl. I hope they don’t vacate the title and go elsewhere, that fight has to be made. If Josh wins I don’t think he’d vacate, but Carl might as he’s done it before, he vacated the WBA instead of fighting Guillermo Rigondeaux.

“It’s a great division with Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jr. and Oscar Valdez in there as Champions. Back home obviously there’s Josh, Carl and Scott Quigg.

"I don’t like Scott, he thinks he’s better than he is, and I’d love to smash him. Scott has come up short and I think that people would expect me to win, so I’d rather fight Josh or Carl, we’re the big three in Britain.

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Kell Brook v Michael Zarafa in numbers

10,500 – Aussie Michael Zarafa will have travelled this many more miles than Kell Brook to reach Sheffield Arena.

18: The number of rounds Brook has boxed in the last 31 months.

26: The number of stoppages recorded by Brook, so far – a 67% success rate.

7: Number of previous Brook nights at Sheffield Arena

25: The number of wins recorded by Zarafa.

2: The number of losses each recorded by both men.

6: Zarafa is this many years Brook’s junior.