“Turn up the lights in here baby
Extra bright, I want y’all to see this
Turn up the lights in here baby
You know what I need
Want you to see everything
Want you to see all of the lights”
As the lyrics to Kanye West and Rihanna’s collaboration flooded the Motorpoint Arena, Kell Brook stood focused, ready to begin his ascent to the ring. For the first time in the 26-year-old’s career all of the lights weren’t the only things on him, the eyes of fans and scribes round the country were on focused in his direction. Had lessons been learnt from the now infamous Carson Jones fight or was theYorkshireman merely another over hyped prospect?
The man putting Brook to the test and standing in his way for a mandatory shot at the IBF welterweight crown was Hector Saldivia. The Argentinean entered the contest with a record of 41-2(32 KO’s) gained almost exclusively in his homeland. His only previous venture out-with South American saw “El Tigre” stopped in the opening round of his contest with fringe contender Said Ouali. Despite this Saldivia held and inexplicably high ranking with the governing body.
The contested began quietly with the opening two minutes passing with little event, Brook staying mobile, controlling distance behind the jab, Saldivia pressuring, trying to faint his way in behind a tight guard. The final minute of the stanza brought drama as “The Special One” landed a flush right hook before flooring the South American with an uppercut. Sladivia rose at the count of four and was allowed to continue, clearly hurt he covered up and tried to avoid engaging with Brook who was stalking him around the ring, popping the jab at every available opportunity without trying to force the stoppage, cautious of opening himself up to the heavy handed “El Tigre” which allowed the Argentinean to hear the bell.
The second round began with another right hook from Brook visibly hurting Saldivia, causing him to back up against the ropes where he had to endure a barrage of shots from the Englishman which caused his right eye to bruise before eventually escaping.
The Argentinean responded my charging forward, attempting to unload with a crude offence with Brook, for the most part, was able to avoid while everything the local hero threw, landed and was greeting with a rapturous response from the partisan support.
Saldivia’s only real success came in the final ten seconds of the stanza; a right hook casing his opponent to take a back step, which he followed up with a left to the head and right to the body.
The third and what became the final stanza was short lived as Saldivia walked onto a stiff left jab which sent him to the canvas once more, however this time he was unable to recover and referee Howard John Foster waved off the contest.
Brook appeared in the shape of his life, his upper body clearly more defined than in previous contests with his punch power clearly increased due to the additions of a strength and condition coach as well as a dietician to his team which he admits himself made a massive difference.
“It were easier than I thought it were going to be but we’ve done all the hard work, this is the best prepared I’ve ever been for a fight. Everything was down to a tee, the diet side, all those boxes got ticked”
Next up for Brook will be a shot a new IBF champion Devon Alexander who claimed the belt from Randall Bailey in an uneventful bout on Saturday night. The only fights which would take precedence over a world title shot is a fight with domestic rivals Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan.
“They are just too big to ignore. After this fight the public are going to put pressure on for the Khan fight, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the spring,” Said Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn. If Kell gets a shot at Khan he is in no doubt about the outcomen“He’s going to get schooled, he’s going to get took out really quick Khan.”
Brook also shed light on the much talked about sparring session between himself and Amir as amateurs“We had a spar, I just kept moving and kept him on the end of the jab and by the end his nose was bleeding which at a young age was nice to see.”