Brook's big break
Jim Watt is convinced Kell Brook has the makings of a superstar - and will show it against Rafal Jackiewicz.
Last Updated: 07/10/11 12:03pm
There's no doubt Kell Brook is a talent. But I think we are also talking about a future superstar of boxing.
Over the last few years he has proved himself head and shoulders above the domestic welterweight scene - without wishing to disrespect Matthew Hatton, who put on a brave show against Saul Alvarez.
Brook's last fight against Lovemore N'Dou was a real breakthrough performance - and Saturday night against Rafal Jackiewicz should be the same.
There was never any serious suggestion that N'Dou would beat him and no-one was calling it a 50-50 fight, but Kell won the fight well and he won it clearly. To dominate a proven world-class performer like that suggests that as well as talking and thinking like a top-tier fighter, Brook has the skills to be one.
He is facing another proven performer in Jackiewicz and again, we all expect him to win. So that makes the style in which he does it all the more important. World-class fighters don't just get by on talent alone, it's how they handle the difficult opponents, the big steps up along the way.
Jackiewicz has fought for a world title and is another respectable opponent. The jump from British, Commonwealth or European to the world scene is a big one and it's one that so far, Brook has managed.
But he has to keep boxing at this level and he has to impress at this level. He has to be topping the bill and selling tickets, because I know for a fact people on the other side of the Atlantic are well aware of him.
A couple of years ago Ian Darke and myself were covering a fight in the States for Sky Sports when we bumped into Gilberto Mendoza, the president of the WBA, and he wanted to know all about Kell Brook. That might well have been to do with the fact that Frank Warren, who was his promoter back then, had been banging the drum about him, but the fact that people were asking about him shows the word is out.
That was two years ago as well. Here and now if he can look really good at this level, I am sure every TV company in the States will be interested. That is what I meant at the start about him becoming a superstar.
It might sound like an easy comparison to make with the Brendan Ingle connection, but I really do think Brook has a bit of the Naz factor about him. He has sold out the Ponds Forge Arena on Saturday, which is a decent size, and he also has that cheek and arrogance that Hamed had. He says unusual things, he calls it as he sees it, and in the ring, he is always in really good fights.
That is what separates the superstars from the rest; the fact that people can tune in or buy a ticket knowing they are going to see something special, something entertaining, one way or another. It's never easy being compared to someone and living in their shadow, but I think Kell would love the Naz comparison and it should be something that can inspire him to bigger and better things.
That sort of appeal can go beyond your hard-nosed boxing fans and make you a star, certainly in this country. And if I'm honest, there is a gap right now. Apart from Amir Khan and to an extent, Carl Froch, you'd struggle to find a boxer who has that appeal and that stature.
It's all there for Brook and looking good against someone like Jackiewicz will be another important part of fulfilling what I think he is capable of.
This is an eliminator for the WBA title as well and you have got to hand it to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, they are picking the right path in the welterweight division. Floyd Mayweather holds the WBC belt and Manny Pacquiao the WBO and while IBF champion Andre Berto is not beyond the realms of possibility, I think it's a little too early to be putting Kell in with those other two!
Khan is another name that keeps cropping up and there are plenty of similarities there as well. Like Amir, he has a fast, flash style and throws plenty of punches. But more importantly, he commits himself to winning fights: he goes for it. You won't see him start running, flicking out punches and just doing enough to get by; when Brook fights he fights to win - at whatever level. That is what makes a genuine star, like Ricky Hatton for example.
Jackiewicz won't make it easy for him on Saturday night, but I can only see one outcome. He looks a little one-paced to me, a typical European fighter without much head movement and from what I've seen, I don't think he is one for throwing many punches.
He prefers to throw single shots and place them when he does. Well, I can't see that working against Brook because although he has had 39 fights and challenged for a world title, he won't have come across anyone with the same speed and style.
Jackiewicz is also 34 now and has had his one big shot, so the timing of this suits Brook down to the ground. I expect to see him setting a pace and throwing plenty of punches, fast and heavy, as he usually does.
I can also see him becoming the first man to stop the Pole, perhaps in the last third of the fight. It might not come with a single-punch knockout, but because Brook is hitting him too often for his - or the referee's - liking.