Kell Brook once again marks time this Saturday at the Fly DSA Arena in Sheffield. Unfortunately, his grand plans for a 2019 showdown with old nemesis Amir Khan may now be consigned to being this decades Ricky Hatton v Junior Witter, as Khan has reportedly received a substantial financial offer to fight the WBO Welterweight Champion, Terence Crawford in March. Whether or not this materialises in another matter.
Brook meets the Australian former Commonwealth Champion Michael Zerafa, in what he hopes will be a final fight before a significant step up in class, Khan or no Khan, with potential World Title shots at Super Welterweight on offer as a more than suitable alternative. Sky Sports is the UK broadcaster for the fight, with DAZN hosting in the USA. Here is the preview.
Kell Brook (37-2, KO26) v Michael Zerafa (25-2, KO14) – 12 Rounds, WBA Super Welterweight Title Final Eliminator
Sheffield’s own Kell Brook has another home date this Saturday, and again it’s another step before what he hopes is a meaningful fight. The plan is for a stadium fight with Amir Khan, but a spanner may now have been thrown in the works in the shape of Terence Crawford. A Super Welterweight World Title tilt may be a realistic plan B though, but first Brook must get past the Aussie, Michael Zerafa in a final eliminator for the WBA Title currently held by Jarrett Hurd, who defended his WBA (Super) and IBF Titles by defeating Jason Welborn in four action filled rounds last Saturday.
Brook is of course, a former IBF Welterweight Champion, turning in a great away performance to capture the Title in August 2014 in California, defeating Shawn Porter via majority decision. He defended three times against lower level opposition, before accepting a tough assignment, stepping up two weight classes in tackling the unified Middleweight Champion, Gennady Golovkin in September 2016, stepping in when Chris Eubank Junior hesitated in signing a contract to meet the Kazakh wrecking ball. Brook gave it his all at the O2 in London, and had more than his fair share of success. However, in the fifth round, the towel was thrown in, as Brook, struggling with a fractured eye socket, was taking too many punches for his trainer Dominic Ingle’s liking.
Brook didn’t relinquish his Welterweight belt to step up to face “GGG”, and would defend it in his next fight at Bramhall Lane, home of his beloved Sheffield United FC. His opponent would be the gifted Errol Spence Junior. Brook started well, but faded after the middle rounds, suffering another fracture, this time to the opposite eye socket. He would be dropped in the tenth, before being stopped in the next round to make it back to back defeats. After a ten month layoff, he returned in March this year, knocking out Sergey Rabchenko in two rounds.
The fight was made at Super Welterweight, with Brook outgrowing Welterweight. This looks to be Brook’s natural weight, although his fixation with a fight with Khan may tempt him into dropping weight again. For now he must settle with a fight with Michael Zarafa, and he will start as a heavy favourite. Brook will be trained for this fight by John Fewkes, as Dominic Ingle is otherwise engaged with other fighters in his stable. It is thought this is a one fight arrangement, but you can never say never in this sport, with Ingle now busy with Billy Joe Saunders and Kid Galahad amongst others.
Zerafa, although a former Commonwealth Champion, is a fair few levels below his opponent. A professional since 2011, he built a 15-0 record before venturing out of his native Australia for the first time, dropping a wide points decision to fellow unbeaten fighter, Arif Magomedov over ten rounds in Moscow in October 2014. After two stoppage comeback wins, he again went on the road, this time to Mashantucket in the USA, where the gifted Peter Quillin knocked him out without a count in five rounds.
Since that reverse he has won eight on the spin, although all in his homeland. Zerafa has had a busy 2018. He picked up the vacant Commonwealth crown in March by winning nearly every round against Tewkesbury’s unbeaten Adam Harper. He followed this up three months later with a ten round points win over Wade Ryan to acquire the WBA Oceania Title. He defended in his last outing in August, with a three round stoppage win over Jose Agustin Feria. The Melbourne man isn’t expected to cause Brook many problems, but a win would catapult him into the big leagues.
The career form line for Zerafa going into this contest, is that every time he ventures outside of Australia, he is soundly beaten. I expect this trend to continue this weekend. Brook will want to take out his 2018 frustrations on the Aussie, and I can see him putting Zerafa down with a flurry of shots in the opener. I think Zerafa will survive a few more rounds, before “Special K” closes the show around the fourth for a stoppage win.
The big tests lie ahead for the Sheffield man however. Brook complained of double vision during the fight with Spence, and it is unclear if the Golovkin and Spence fights have caused lasting damage. If Brook cant tempt Khan into a 2019 domestic dust up, expect him to chase the American dream once again in pursuit of World honours.