BROOK VS BENN: THE FIGHT WE NEED IN BRITAIN?
Brook is also considering retirement, but may yet fight on if the opponent (and the money) prove irresistible. One such opponent is Conor Benn, who was named in post-fight interviews as a potential target. There will be naysayers, but below are 5 reasons why I think this could be an excellent match up for British boxing.
There’s a case for Brook winning it
Kell isn’t the Brook of old who won the IBF welterweight title in America, but it remains a fact that he’s only been beaten by the very best. Despite being 35, he’s slick, he picks his shots well, and possesses a punch that will at the very least get Benn’s attention. Benn, despite some truly stellar performances in 2021, still lets his guard down on occasion and can be made to miss if he gets too wild. Brook is more experienced, more refined and is proven over the championship rounds, while Benn still has work to do in all those areas.
There’s a case for Benn winning it
Even though the timing of punches may favour Kell Brook, the timing of the fight certainly favours Benn. As mentioned above, Brook is 35 and firmly at the tail end of his career. Benn is a rising star, and has a hunger to reach heights in the sport that Brook scaled eight years ago. Brook has been hurt significantly in the past – Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence each broke one of his eye sockets – and a few other wars have put miles on his clock. Benn, with a confrontational style, a powerful punch and something to prove, could be meeting the Sheffield man at exactly the right time if they face each other next.
There’s money in it
Brook will firmly have his eye on the size of his pay check in a way that Benn won’t, although it will need to make financial sense for both. Luckily, this is a fight that will capture the imagination of the general public. It will comfortably headline an event, and will comfortably sell out an arena. Only the greediest of promoters would have this as a Pay Per View fight, but with the money involved in the sport these days, both men should make somewhere close to 7 figures from this.
There’s interest in it
This fight ticks the boxes that the general public will invest in. All British clash; son of an icon vs former world champion; North vs South, etc. Unlike Khan, Conor Benn has thunder to steal, and if Brook wants one more chance at winning world honours, beating Benn would at least put him in the conversation as a title challenger. Belts aside, the boxing community has been buying into the projected bright future of Benn, who has passed every test he’s been set. Brook will provide an examination that fighters like Chris Algieri (who Benn stopped last time out) simply can’t. Both are former world champions, true, but Algieri won his title in debatable circumstances against Ruslan Provodnikov, before a dominant Manny Pacquiao took it from him in his next fight.
Algieri hadn’t boxed at world level since being bossed by Pac Man, and never possessed anything like the sort of power needed to deter someone like Benn. Brook, by contrast, was a champion for two years before moving up two divisions to face Gennady Golovkin in a bid to become a champion at middleweight. He’s had more world title fights than Algieri has had 12 rounders, and at one time was arguably the best welterweight in the sport. All this to say: despite being past his prime, Brook will be Benn’s toughest test yet.
There’s no better option for Brook
I suspected Brook would call out Terence Crawford for a rematch if he won at the weekend, which would have been grossly inappropriate and an inflated estimation of the importance of his return. To Brook’s credit, Crawford (or the name of any other world champion) wasn’t mentioned. Chris Eubank Jnr, however, was mentioned several times, which is a more suitable and interesting match-up. However, he dismissed Brook’s offer of a 155lb catch weight fight, reasoning that if Brook could make 160lbs to face Golovkin, then he could do so for any potential contest with him. This would be a fair request apart from the fact that Golovkin had two world titles (plus the IBO title) to entice Brook to make the trip to 160lbs. Eubank has none of them.
Fighting Benn would pay Brook handsomely as well as offer some future, but against a fully-fledged middleweight would offer him little else then money. Former super-welterweight champion Liam Smith would be interesting (and would be an easy sell in Liverpool) but with a fight already booked for him in April against Jessie Vargas, their schedules may not quite align to allow it to take place, as Brook is planning a way out of the sport with time already not on his side.