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Over the weekend, Kell Brook announced his retirement from boxing. This puts to an end an 18-year professional career that began in a six-rounder at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield and culminated in one of 2022's biggest fight nights at Manchester Arena. Under the expert tutelage of respected coach Brendan Ingle and with the aim of emulating the success of his hero - Prince Naseem Hamed - Brook enjoyed a fantastic career as a boxer. The Sheffield-born fighter took a traditional path, beating Barrie Jones and Matthew Hatton for the British and International welterweight titles respectively.
Kell Brook has announced his retirement from boxing after 18 years in the ring.
He finishes with 40 wins from 43 fights and spent two years as IBF welterweight champion 🏆
Thanks for the memories Special K! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/oZc0ixB17F
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) May 7, 2022
World glory and brave step up
After racking up a perfect unbeaten record of 32-0, Brook finally got his shot at a world title.
He battled Shawn Porter at the StubHub Center in California for the IBF welterweight title. Porter - who went on to become a two-time world champion - was the favourite going in.
But Brook put in the performance of his life as he upset the apple cart to snatch away Porter's world title, winning on points via majority decision. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Hamed and Johnny Nelson, Brook became Sheffield's latest world champion and one of Steel City's favourite sons.
Brook successfully defended his world title three times before the bold decision was made to move up to middleweight to challenge Gennadiy Golovkin for his WBC, IBF and IBO belts.
'GGG' was 36-0 at this point and he was one of the most feared fighters in world boxing. There were much easier bouts out there for Brook, but he wanted to step up and challenge the best. Very few gave Brook a chance against Golovkin, which is understandable given that the Brit was moving up two divisions to face a destructive opponent. 'The Special One' was beaten by Golovkin, though he did give the Kazakhstani fighter a tough time early on. Brook rightly went up in the estimations of boxing fans that night as he gave as good as he got before a damaged eye socket forced Ingle to throw in the towel in the fifth.
Still the IBF world welterweight champion, Brook lost this belt in his next fight as he was stopped by the highly-talented Errol Spence Jr.
Fighting at his beloved Bramall Lane, Brook was dropped twice in the later rounds as he was plagued once again by an eye injury.
Brook's third defeat came three-and-a-half years later when he battled Terence Crawford. Nothing separated them on the cards heading into the fourth, but Brook was stopped in that round after the champion landed several heavy shots.
Spence and Crawford are recognised as the two best welterweights in the world, so Brook should not be mocked for losing against such a gifted duo.
While all this was going on, Brook was chasing a fight with his British rival Amir Khan. The Bolton-born former unified light-welterweight champion always seemed to duck Brook when a fight between the pair looked on the cards. Khan instead focused on bigger names, battling the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Crawford. As we approached the end of 2021, boxing fans accepted that they were not going to get Brook vs Khan. Out of nowhere though, the pair agreed to fight at Manchester Arena on February 19, 2022. For Brook, this was a fight he had been clamouring for throughout his career and it was perhaps the biggest of his career. At the point they fought, both were past their peak and had suffered a lot through their long and successful careers. Yet there was still a lot of excitement surrounding the bout and the pair delivered a fantastic fight that lived up to the hype.
Brook batters Khan
Brook rolled back the years and he hurt Khan early, who showed great heart to keep going until the sixth round. He was really no match for Brook on the night, who was in great shape and was focused on earning a victory he was made to wait too long for. His winning moment came early into the sixth with Khan desperately defending himself on the ropes. As soon as the referee stopped the contest, Brook was in the arms of Ingle as the duo rightly lapped up the victory. Given just how good Brook looked against Khan, talk naturally turned to who the Special One should face next.
Retires on the perfect note
Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr were mentioned as possible opponents. Thankfully though, Brook has taken the decision to hang up his gloves. He deserves a lot of admiration for doing so. Time and time again boxers past and present have kept grinding away, looking for extra paydays. They cannot be blamed. With the career of a professional boxer being a short one, you want to maximise what you can get while you can. But often this is to the detriment of their legacy, with fighters being remembered for how they were at their worst rather than their best. Considering how long Brook was chasing the Khan fight, the win was always going to mean as much to him as winning a world title. On pay-per-view and in front of a sold-out arena, winning via stoppage against your arch-rival, there was no better way for Brook to bow out. He will rightly go down as a legend in Sheffield and British boxing as a whole. The former world champion never said no to a challenge, proving himself to be a genuine world-level fighter. Brook only lost against the very best and his crowning nights against Porter and Khan make his career one to be admired. You just hope that fighters follow in Brook's footsteps in retiring at the right time.
For the good of boxing, ageing boxers should be more like Brook and Carl Froch than Bernard Hopkins and Danny Williams. As much as fans of boxing want to see fighters earn their money, they don't want to see them suffer. So Brook's final chapter needs to be an inspiration for all to replicate…
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