Trainer Dominic Ingle believes Kell Brook now understands what it takes to reach the top as he prepares to face Hector Saldivia
Sheffield fighter has learned the lesson from his win over Carson Jones
By Rob Lancaster - Tweet me: @SkySportsLanny. Last Updated: 17/10/12 10:17am
They say timing is everything. As he prepares for the stage in his career that could not only make him a very wealthy man but also define his boxing legacy, Kell Brook would probably agree with that expression more than most.
At 26 and with an unblemished 28-fight record, the world is Brook's oyster right now. On Saturday, in his home city of Sheffield, he takes on Hector Saldivia in a final eliminator for the IBF welterweight title, the last and most crucial step in his journey to joining the top table in a star-studded division.
A showdown with the winner of the clash between current champion Randall Bailey and Devon Alexander awaits next, while already discussions are taking place for a huge summer 2013 showdown with Amir Khan, a rivalry that has only heightened since their recent appearance together on Ringside.
However, things could have been very different for Brook right now. In his last fight, against Carson Jones, the British boxer was pushed to the extreme, overcoming a broken nose and an obvious lack of conditioning to just about keep his unbeaten record on the judges' scorecards.
The victory may have kept his career path on track but, perhaps more importantly, provided 'The Special One' with a wake-up call just when he needed it the most.
Now, with so much on the line, Brook has left nothing to chance. The introduction of a nutritionist and strength and conditioner into his camp means he is in serious shape to face Argentine Saldivia.
Trainer Dominic Ingle has certainly noticed a difference in his fighter this time around - lean, mean and extremely keen, Brook seems to have finally come to terms with just what it takes to reach the very top in the toughest of sports.
"Kell has had to start training at that elite level," Ingle told Sky Sports after an open session at Meadowhall Shopping Centre. "You look at Mayweather and Pacquiao training and it is a serious business - there are millions of dollars involved.
"It's not something you can do as an afterthought. Kell has got the ability but sometimes that has over-ridden other elements of his training.
"If you watch the fight against Carson Jones, for the first six rounds he schooled the guy, but he simply ran out of steam after that. What he did show, though, was tremendous amounts of courage, gritting his teeth and dealing with a broken nose to get through to the end of the fight.
"But that fight really made him sit up and think, 'this can't happen again'. It made him realise that it's not just a given that every time he walks into the ring he's going to win the fight.
"Kell is a kid you have got to be challenging on a daily basis"
"Kell's accepted that boxing is a full-time job; it's not something you do for three hours a day for five days a week. It's something you do from the age of 18 hopefully to the age of 30 or 32, hopefully making as much money as you can so you can finish.
"You have to utilise those peak years and generate your money."
Ingle had to watch on from the corner as Brook battled his way through the second half of the fight with the teak-tough Jones at the Motorpoint Arena, a stark contrast to his emphatic points success against Matthew Hatton at the same venue just four months previously.
For the first six rounds it seemed things were going to plan, but Brook's struggles to make the weight and inability to see off the American early meant he was forced to dig in right through to the final bell.
"I think he underestimated Jones," Ingle continued. "But he's learned from his mistakes.
"He had boxed Matthew Hatton and Lovemore Ndou, which was a big fight for him. He trained like a demon for that, he was in the gym at the weekend, got his diet right and I thought against Ndou he performed really well.
"After that I think everything was a bit of an anti-climax. We waited for the Hatton fight and he trained well for that as well. He got up for that, because Hatton was a name.
"I think because he won every single round and had him (Hatton) down, when the Jones fight came around, it was another anti-climax.
"Kell is a kid you've got to be challenging on a daily basis, even in training. If you let him get bored, then he'll think it's easy. When you challenge him to do certain things he's up for it."
If Brook needs a challenge to thrive then the next year to 18 months should suit him down to the ground. If the penny has truly dropped, then he could be about to hit the jackpot.