Posts Tagged ‘british boxing’

A latecomer to the pros

A latecomer to the pros

By George Ogier 

On Saturday night in Sheffield one of British amateur boxing’s most famous names takes what could be his last swing at professional success. The former Olympic champion Audley Harrison faces American puncher Deontay Wilder on the undercard of Amir Khan’s fight with Julio Diaz.

Plenty of column inches and internet forums have been devoted to the subject of Harrison’s failure to convert successfully to the pro game. In the city that is the home of GB amateur boxing it really is Audley’s final opportunity to make a dent in the rankings of the paid world.

Another boxer who is no stranger to Sheffield and the GB set up is London 2012’s boxing team captain Thomas Stalker. After failing to win a medal in the summer games Stalker took the decision to hang up the head guard and sign with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom team. However, three fights into his professional journey and many are starting to question whether Stalker has what it takes to fulfil his ambition and become a world champion.

Tom Stalker came to boxing late, only entering a gym at the age of 18. In spite of these tardy beginnings Stalker became one of the most successful amateur fighters this country has ever seen. ABA, European and Commonwealth titles were added to his CV as the Liverpudlian chased the big one, gold at a home Olympic games.

Stalker went into the Olympics as the AIBA ranked no. 1 light welterweight in the world. Controversy dogged Tom’s time at London 2012 with him being on both ends of disputed decisions. Some people felt that Stalker had been the benefactor of some generous judging in his round of 16 contest against Manoj Kumar. Conversely Stalker’s fans were furious when in the resulting quarter-final it was decided that Tom had lost a close fight to Mongolia’s Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg.

The disappointment of London 2012 gave Stalker little appetite to put in another four years of preparation for Rio 2016. The opportunity to turn pro was there and cashing in on fame generated by the games was too big an offer to turn down.

In the past, decorated amateurs have turned professional in a blaze of publicity but for Tom Stalker the switch has been reasonably low-key. In an interesting twist Stalker made his professional debut at York Hall, fighting just before Audley Harrison’s recent Prizefighter triumph.

That night Stalker’s fans turned a corner of East London into a Liverpudlian enclave, all for just twelve minutes of action. Support will not be hard to come by for the popular Stalker but as a flat performance progressed the crowd matched it with a deflated atmosphere.

Stalker’s less-than-stellar showing against Kristian Laight was understandable. A first professional fight in front of a raucous crowd would make even the hardiest of souls nervous. The general feeling was that “The Captain” would improve, he just needed rounds.

Team Captain

Team Captain

Since that night in Bethnal Green Stalker has fought twice more in a short space of time. Points decision victories over Andrew Harris and Gyorgy Mizsei Jr have kept the former amateur busy but there is now a rumble of discontent from some fans over Stalker’s potential as a pro.

I watched Tom Stalker’s debut at York Hall from ringside and to be frank it was rather underwhelming. More worrying though is the fact that he doesn’t appear to have learnt anything from that experience. In Harris he faced a three fight novice with no wins and yet Harris was able to draw one round.

Mizsei Jr had lost a third of his fights against Eastern Europeans who would struggle to be recognised in their own homes and yet at times he made Stalker look silly. It is worth remembering that Tom himself is also a three fight professional novice. However, with the amateur pedigree that Stalker possesses his technical ability should be way beyond what we have seen so far.

Are we being too critical of Tom Stalker? Steve Bunce wrote recently in Boxing Monthly “It is not the job of Robert McCracken, his team and the GB funding system to prepare boxers for the professional business.” This is undoubtedly true and whilst there is often a chasm between the two codes many of the skills are clearly transferable.

One of the most disturbing things about Stalker’s time as a paid fighter is how easy he has been to hit. On Saturday it felt like every time Tom tried to move inside Mizsei Jr’s guard he was getting clipped. It all feels like it’s a bit rushed and perhaps that is at the root of the problem.

Tom Stalker is almost 29 years old and 95% of his boxing experience has been centred around the amateur sport. The cliché of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a well-worn one but it’s well-worn for a reason. Can Stalker learn the skills he needs to be a success in the pros? There is a feeling that the likeable Scouser may well have left it too late.

There is a counter argument that age is no barrier success. It was a mantra espoused by George Foreman as he made his comeback in the late 1980s. However Foreman was already an experienced professional and the only issue he really had was one of ring rust (and perhaps diet rust).

Stalker needs to learn and learn fast. However, the two or three years it might normally take a novice to get to domestic title level isn’t really an option here. The problem is that during Stalker’s three fights so far we have learnt that he isn’t going to slip naturally into this change of career.

In his desire to please the fans with eye-catching performances it seems like Stalker is forgetting the fundamentals that served him so well in the world of head guards and vests. It isn’t just fight to fight that Tom is forgetting these rules, it is during contests too. On Saturday Stalker’s trainer was becoming frustrated with the Liverpudlian’s seeming inability to stick to the game plan.

Another difficulty is Stalker’s apparent lack of power. You could forgive him for eating a punch or two if he was getting inside to land a knockout blow but that simply isn’t the case. Tom appears to be chasing a shot that will never come. At 28 it will be difficult to add a power game to Stalker’s armoury so he needs to box smart, something that seems like a distant dream at times.

Nobody can begrudge Tom Stalker’s desire to box in an Olympics held in his own country. Especially not when he was the world ranked no. 1 in his weight class and the team captain. Sacrifices had to be made by every fighter on the GB squad and Stalker was no difference. However, the sacrifice Stalker made to appear at those games might just be the dream of professional success.

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By Martin ‘The Brain’ Potter @theboxingbrain

AHDHThe tripod throwin’, trash talkin’, toe breakin’, thunderous punchin’ typhoon – otherwise known as David ‘Hayemaker’ Haye – is, seemingly, set to return to boxing this summer. And I, for one, am delighted.

Although not the best heavyweight (that honour belongs to his conqueror Wladimir Klitschko) or the biggest, David Haye is the most intriguing, charismatic big man out there; he is also the one British fighter, in any weight class, still capable of bringing casual fans to the table. Whilst world (and former world) champions Froch, Khan and Burns have struggled at times to fill indoor arenas, connect with fans or secure quality TV and mainstream press coverage (although, thankfully and rightly, Froch now seems to have broken through), Haye can sell out football stadiums in non-title bouts and provide copious amounts of copy for hungry hacks.

David’s detractors (Haye-ters?!) will point to his crass antics and arrogant attitude. Severed heads on t-shirts and broken bottles were not particularly endearing to the general public. But the truth is that they served their purpose, made Haye (and others) a lot of money and put boxing back in the spotlight. Boxing – more than any other sport – has always had, and needs, pantomime villains, good guys and bad guys. For straight-laced Klitschko, the flip side is ‘wild’ Haye, for respectful Pacquiao we have arrogant showman Mayweather; opposing characters, as well as opposing fighting styles are what draws fans to the fight game.

The other thing – the most important thing – that excites me about Haye’s comeback is the fact that the boy can fight. Has he actually proved it at heavyweight? Well, he has KO’d every heavyweight opponent he has faced bar two. One of these men was over seven feet tall (to former cruiserweight Hayes six feet, three inches) and an undefeated world champion – Haye won on points and shook him to his boots in the process. The other was the best heavyweight on the planet, whom Haye lost on points to. Yes Haye was disappointing in that bout and yes his excuses were a little lame (as was he, big broken toe an’ all), but he still pushed Klitschko harder than many others have in recent years – despite a huge size disadvantage.

Haye held three belts at cruiserweight, was a world amateur silver medallist and held the WBA heavyweight title. He has proven pedigree at the very top-level. Also he is not old for a heavyweight and is certainly not shop-worn, having had fewer than thirty fights. In my opinion Haye has the tools to beat any heavyweight out there; speed, power, athleticism and ability – a rare combination in the current climate.

The biggest issue will be Haye himself and how much he really wants it. One fight a year and a few TV appearances do not a truly great heavyweight make. Haye will do himself and his abilities a disservice if he doesn’t make a serious run, and some serious cash, through the current crop of heavyweights – just imagine the hype surrounding a Tyson Fury stadium fight.

The Hayemaker is ‘bad’ in some people’s eyes, he is good for British boxing in others. Ultimately though, whether you like him or hate him, you will watch David Haye. And if we all watch David Haye, well, that can only be good for boxing.

Groves v DeGale

By George Ogier

At the height of the build up to George Groves’ fight with James DeGale in May last year I was asked who had the better long-term prospects. I was convinced, as were many others that it was DeGale. The Olympic gold medallist had disposed of Paul Smith Jr with ease and many were backing DeGale to defeat his amateur nemesis Groves in similar fashion

At the same point in time, George Groves had struggled to beat Kenny Anderson and previous to that had looked mediocre against a clearly past-it Charles Adamu. Fourteen months on from Groves’ surprise (to me at least) defeat of James DeGale if I were to be asked about the two men and their futures I might have to reassess my opinion.

James DeGale is currently the European super middleweight champion but he is also locked in contract dispute with current promoter, Frank Warren. It is believed that the root of DeGale’s displeasure is the fact that Warren signed George Groves to a promotional deal in August last year.

At the time it was thought that the Groves deal would facilitate a much-anticipated rematch between DeGale and the new arrival. DeGale however saw the signing as a show of disloyalty from Warren and has been angling to break away from the promoter who paid James handsomely to turn pro after the Olympics.

As a result of the contract wrangling there has been an air of stagnation about DeGale’s career. In fairness to the Harlesden boxer he has fought more rounds than Groves since the two men met but it has been done with much less fanfare.

Both of DeGale’s bouts since the Groves fight have been overshadowed by other cards or contests. When James won the European title it was on the undercard of Nathan Cleverly’s huge match with Tony Bellew. Similarly, when DeGale made his first defence of the title it was on the same night that Derry Mathews shocked British boxing by knocking out Anthony Crolla.

Both performances from James DeGale were worthy of more attention but sadly they were swallowed up in the maelstrom of domestic boxing. As it stands James is still contracted to Frank Warren although a deal is on the verge of being struck whereby DeGale can fight for another promoter, he just has to give Warren 15% of his purse.

It would be reasonable to assume that becoming European champion would have given James DeGale a profile boost. However, it is George Groves that has taken the media spotlight in the last year. A highly publicised spat with Kenny Anderson regarding their on/off rematch plus an aborted world title shot against Robert Stieglitz has kept Groves very much in the pages of the boxing press.

Like DeGale, Groves has boxed twice since the clash at the O2. You could argue that Groves has fought easier opponents than DeGale in that time but it is the nature of the Hammersmith fighter’s victories that have stuck in the mind.

It took all of a round and change for Groves to knockout former British champion Paul Smith Jr. I was convinced that Smith would give Groves real problems that night but George was utterly clinical in his triumph.

The real talking point in Groves’ career progression came last weekend in California. I have, for a long time railed against the insular nature of British boxing. Far too often we see fighters from these shores lauded by our own press as world-class. As soon as fighters step outside of that bubble it can be a real culture shock, as we saw when Kell Brook faced Carson Jones recently.

Groves downs Sierra

It is therefore heartening to see that Groves was prepared to fight in the US against a live opponent. Not for George the Tommy Karpencys and Luis Galarzas of this world. Groves took on Francisco Sierra, a man who is the same age as Groves but who has fought world title challengers and has a superb KO percentage.

Sierra took Groves into somewhat uncharted territory at the weekend. The Mexican showed tremendous punch resistance for the first five rounds and also punished Groves repeatedly for carrying his left hand too low.

Groves hadn’t fought for eight months before Saturday’s outing. He was keen to get rounds under his belt ahead of a bill topping appearance at Wembley in September against an as yet unnamed opponent. Both the experience and the September card were thrown into doubt when Groves was cut badly over his right eye in the third round.

However, excellent work from his corner meant that George could keep a cool head in the face of a possible stoppage. As a result he was able to wear Sierra down and victory came soon after a fabulous four punch combination put the Mexican on the canvas.

The cut that Groves suffered from a clash of heads in the Sierra fight should have healed in time for September 14th. It is thought that George will face Scot, Kenny Anderson for the British and Commonwealth titles, a contest that has been put out to purse bids.

George Groves will hope that a dominant showing in September will secure him another world title shot. Groves had been due to fight Robert Stieglitz for the WBO title but had to pull out due to injury. George has even mentioned his dream of fighting at the home of his beloved Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge.

What a difference a year makes. 12 months ago people were still in shock that Groves had triumphed over DeGale. Talk of an immediate rematch was still swirling around and Groves was thought to be on the verge of signing up with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom.

One year on and James DeGale has almost become the forgotten man of British boxing. Caught in a contract dispute and no fights on the horizon you could forgive the Olympic champion for looking slightly bewildered. George Groves on the other hand seems to have built on his success against DeGale and now seems equipped to challenge for a world title sooner rather than later.

In his second piece for Write Cross, the excellent Callum Rudge wonders why it is that Carl Froch continues to divide opinion so much amongst British boxing fans. 

By Callum Rudge

“I haven’t had the recognition I deserve,You can go back to anybody’s career — Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, David Haye, Amir Khan, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Steve Collins, Naseem Hamed. My record is better than all of theirs”

Carl Froch

The above quote is from an interview that Carl Froch the 3 time ‘World’ Champion gave to the Evening Standard, published on the 10th July. It’s quite hard to disagree with Carl, his run of fights from 2008 vs. Jean Pascal up to Lucian Bute in May of this year has been very impressive. He hasn’t ducked anybody, but to say he hasn’t the recognition he deserves is untrue. In the build up to each Carl Froch fight pundits and fans alike are queuing up to say that Froch’s run of opponents is unparalleled. Whether it’s on Sky’s magazine show Ringside or in any of the Boxing Magazines, he gets as much praise as anyone. He has been very unlucky with TV companies; after Mick Hennesssy’s deal with ITV ended he was stuck in TV purgatory on subscription channel Primetime. Now with his move to Matchroom and Sky he’s getting more exposure but he’s still clearly not happy.

I don’t know anything about guitars, or guitar based music but I was scrolling through Amazon’s bestselling albums list and one name kept popping up, David Gray. When I clicked on his name I saw a list of albums with one 5 star review after another but I couldn’t for the life of me name one of his songs. I then asked round the office to see if anyone knew what David Gray’s big record was and I only got one answer and when I mentioned the list of 5 star albums the response I got was “Really?”. The Monday after Amir Khan’s shock KO defeat to Danny Garcia a colleague walked in and started talking about it, this lady is a Grandmother and she knows as much about Boxing as I do about guitars but she knew Amir Khan’s name and that he had lost. Carl Froch is the David Gray of Boxing, he is respected by Boxing fans due to a run of high quality fights but his work is largely unknown by the general public. So what has stopped Boxing’s David Gray becoming Robbie Williams?.

Chris Eubank (Senior) was and still is a character; the monocle, the lisp, the flip over the ropes and the pose he would do as his name was being announced got people talking. It made some people want to see him lose, hence the popularity of Nigel Benn who was the complete opposite.. Prince Naseem was very similar to Eubank. Ricky Hatton was the 2 weight world champion who would have a ‘S**t Shirt Party” at his local pub after every fight. People know David Haye as the big punching, loud mouth kid from Bermondsey who slayed the 7 foot Russian Goliath plus he has the respect of boxing fans for Unifying the Cruiserweight division, if anything else. And then we get to Joe Calzaghe.

“I’ve been a big Joe Calzaghe fan over the years but have not been impressed by the way he doesn’t want to fight me”. I think he should fight me really. He has had a couple of really soft voluntary defences rather than fighting me and I’ve got the hump with him over it. Okay, Kessler is a good fight, but he says he wants only big fights now and fighting me would be just that. There would be huge interest in Britain for it”

The quote above was a typical Carl Froch quote from 2007, it was published just before Calzaghe was about to fight future Froch conqueror Mikkel Kessler for the Undisputed World Super Middleweight Championship live on ITV. A week after this fight Carl was scheduled to face a washed up Robin Reid on Sky Sports for the British Title. As a boxing fan I read that and thought “cheeky $#%!, he’s beaten no-one of note and is telling the man at 12 stone that he’s “got the hump” with him”. There was also the scene captured by ITV cameras in the build up to Carl’s fight with Jean Pascal where he phoned Calzaghe on camera and asked him for a fight, to which Joe replied that if the money was right it could happen. I believe Joe said that knowing that Carl wasn’t a money draw and that despite Carl’s views, the fight wouldn’t generate “huge interest”. Joe was already well past him and wasn’t looking back.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather

I think comments like this one and the one at the start of the article have put a lot of boxing fans off him. We still admire his achievements but wish he would show some sense before opening his mouth. I also think that Carl, unlike the fighters he mentions, has failed to capture the public’s imagination because nothing makes him stand out from the crowd. He doesn’t wear a 3-piece suit and drive a lorry or flip over the top rope into the ring. He looks normal, talks normal and acts normal. He’s neither the good guy nor the bad guy so the general public aren’t emotionally invested enough to look out for his fights. Floyd Mayweather, as well as being an exceptional fighter promotes himself as the bad guy and for that reason is the highest paid athlete in the world. Top-level sport, just like music is show business and normal people aren’t on the front pages of the papers.

Just ask David Gray.

You can follow boxing and Tottenham Hotspur fan Callum on Twitter here. If you would like to write for Write Cross you can get in touch by emailing writecross12@gmail.com.

As the ramifications of Amir Khan’s loss to Danny Garcia are still to be fully understood, have we credited Khan with too much ability since the Olympic star has turned pro?

By George Ogier

When Thierry Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007 many of the club’s fans hoped that Theo Walcott would blossom into a like for like replacement for the Frenchman. Walcott was bestowed with Henry’s no. 14 shirt and it was generally accepted that we were looking at a future superstar of English football.

Five years on and Theo Walcott is indeed a mainstay of the Arsenal side and a regular for his country. However, there is an inescapable feeling that the former Southampton academy star hasn’t lived up to expectations. Perhaps those expectations were too great and Walcott just isn’t good enough to meet them.

In 2010 Chris Waddle claimed that Walcott “has no football brain”. Waddle expanded on his point by saying “I just don’t know if he studies the game, learns the game, or what. He’s at a great club where they play fantastic football week-in, week-out and I’m just surprised he’s never developed his game”.

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that Walcott has improved over the last two years I think Chris Waddle had a valid argument. What is interesting though is that it’s possible to take Waddle’s statement and substitute football for boxing. It could then be applied to another young star of British sport making just as much sense. Step forward, Amir Khan.

In the same way that Theo Walcott was expecting to eventually replace Thierry Henry at Arsenal, Amir Khan was destined to be great. His career has overlapped slightly that of Ricky Hatton, the most popular British fighter for years. Many around the sport expected Khan, after his Olympic success to replace Hatton in the hearts of British boxing fans.

As plausible an idea as it might have been originally, it just never happened. Strangely, Khan and Hatton share some of the traits that made Ricky so popular. Khan, like Hatton never takes a backward step, he also appears to be willing to fight anyone. However, that is where the similarities end.

Ricky Hatton was an incredibly accomplished boxer underneath the “ready for war” exterior. As time progresses I am not entirely sure that the same can be said of Khan. When the Bolton fighter was knocked out by Breidis Prescott it led to huge changes in the Khan camp. Many were of the opinion that a knockout like that can happen to anyone.

As Khan rebuilt his career we were treated to the spectacle of his epic contest with Marcos Maidana. Amir appeared to have put the ghost of Prescott to bed in proving that he could take a shot. Nonetheless, lessons needing learning after that fight and they were there for all to see.

The issue of performing enhancing drugs aside, Khan’s showing against Lamont Peterson in December was again full of holes as he suffered his first loss at light welterweight. Once again Amir got pulled into a brawl when he would have been better boxing at range and moving.

Questions have been asked about Amir Khan’s relationship with his trainer, Freddie Roach in the aftermath of Saturday’s Garcia fight. While there can be little doubt that Manny Pacquiao is the main focus of Roach’s attention in the Wildcard gym I think it is unfair to blame Khan’s performances on Roach.

When the ill-fated Khan v. Peterson rematch was still alive Sky’s Johnny Nelson went to interview Freddie Roach who was keen to outline his plans for Khan, “I want him [Khan] to fight more flat-footed. When he’s flat-footed and not bouncing everywhere he sees exactly what’s happening…..when he’s bouncing there’s too much activity to see what the other guy’s doing”.

Roach clearly had a system in place to iron out the deficiencies in Khan’s defence. Indeed, ahead of the Danny Garcia fight Roach made it very clear that he wanted Amir to throw punches in no more than 2s or 3s and then move out of the pocket. It was a strategy designed in part to nullify Garcia’s counters but also to ensure Khan wasn’t hanging around to get hit.

it could have been so different

Amir began Saturday’s fight boxing to plan but perhaps buoyed by the sight of a cut over Garcia’s right eye he began to revert to type. Khan remained in the pocket for too long and began throwing combinations of four and five shots rather than two and three as instructed.

At this point everyone knows how the fight ended but surprisingly the majority of people I have spoken to seem to regard the result as a huge upset. Danny Garcia is an unbeaten world title holder who before Saturday had knocked out fourteen of twenty-three opponents. I thought it was a real pick ’em affair that I expected Khan to perhaps shade. It’s certainly no Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas.

After the Peterson fight I lamented the fact that Khan kept getting dragged into unnecessary wars. Surely a boxer with Amir’s amateur pedigree could learn to box smart and work to his strengths. I have now reached a point where I am not sure that is a viable option.

Freddie Roach put into place a plan to help Amir Khan beat Danny Garcia. After two rounds of success Khan seemed to give the impression of a man who knew better and began to fight the way he has always fought.

Nobody can question the heart of Amir Khan. He rebuilt his career after the Prescott loss. Amir then toughed it out in the ferocious battle with Maidana. Unfortunately both moments of adversity were as a direct result of Khan’s own actions. The same applies to the problems Amir faced in the Peterson fight and again on Saturday against Danny Garcia.

Amir Khan will always be an exciting boxer to watch. His unpredictability means that fans approach his bouts with a real sense of the unknown. Trainers cannot teach their fighters to have courage but bravery is not enough. A refusal to adapt and learn from mistakes will ultimately cost a boxer dearly.

Khan has said that he will be assessing his relationship with Freddie Roach as he plans for the future. Clearly upset with playing second fiddle to Manny Pacquiao, Kahn might seek to change trainers. Many fans and journalists alike have said that this might be for the best. I would suggest that Amir Khan might should look a little closer to home when searching for the root of his problems in the ring.

I’m a big-headed egomaniac at the best of times and during the lead up to David Haye’s fight with Dereck Chisora I have been fortunate enough to be very busy. Rather than swamp you with a series of links in individual tweets and Facebook status updates I thought I’d make one page with everything on.

Firstly I was thrilled to be involved in a one-off special of the Boxing Clever podcast. Host Martin “The Brain” Potter spoke to his old cohort Alex Reid, myself and various other boxing journalists and bloggers. It was fantastic to be involved in and you can listen here or go to the One More Round podcast on iTunes.

I have also blogged about David Haye’s waning popularity for The Mirror and you can read that here.

Finally, I even got my gnarled old face on the telly. I got to ask Frank Warren a few questions on the Sports Tonight Live channel. The video of part of our debate is below.

It remains to be seen whether the fight itself can live up to the enormous hype surrounding it. I shall be watching and I daresay a few of you will too.

By George Ogier

As the old saying goes, never meet your heroes because they’re bound to disappoint. The cliché was at the forefront of my thoughts as I watched Kell Brook beat Carson Jones at the weekend. Barry McGuigan is one of my heroes and whilst I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him he left me feeling rather disappointed on Saturday night.

In what is fast becoming a sea of sycophants McGuigan has been a shining beacon of rationality on Sky Sports’ boxing coverage. Many presenters and commentators on the broadcaster’s boxing team seem contractually obliged to blindly praise British fighters. Conversely, if a boxer is not from these shores and has little or no public profile the same people are quick to dismiss their capabilities.

It is reaching embarrassing levels of ineptitude in and out of the commentary box. Barry McGuigan has been one of the few Sky employees to rise above this parapet of jingoism and actually talk sense. However, it appeared on Saturday night that he is finally accepting the Sky Sports blinkers with five fateful words “Kell Brook is world-class”.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a slight bee in my bonnet about Kell Brook and Matchroom Promotions. Brook has been far too inactive and under-matched throughout his career to date. In spite of this, Eddie Hearn tells us at every opportunity that Kell Brook is a world-class fighter.

Head of Sky Boxing and regular Ringside anchor, Adam Smith recently made moves to ensure that only Matchroom bills appeared on Sky’s domestic coverage of the sport. As a result it would seem that Sky have bought into the world of Hearn’s murky delusions concerning Brook.

Beyond the claims of Kell Brook’s ability, fans were told in no uncertain terms that Brook v Jones was an IBF world title eliminator. Indeed, MC for the Sheffield bill John McDonald announced the victor in the contest “the winner who will challenge for a coveted world title”. Surprisingly, the next day Sky was reporting that Brook now faced a “final eliminator” against Hector Saldivia.

I understand that promoters need to exalt their fighters in order to interest audiences. What I don’t like is Sky’s complicity in toeing the Matchroom party line. Brook is not world-class (yet) and that fight was not a title eliminator. I expect such talk from a boxer’s management team but not from a broadcaster in Smith who clearly loves the sport.

Perhaps I am being unfair on Kell Brook, after all none of this is his fault. He fights the opponents that Eddie Hearn puts in front of him but Brook appears to be buying into his own hype. The young man from Sheffield is a very accomplished boxer, one of the best in Britain in fact. However, in praising Brook to the heavens we’re in danger of harming his career.

Kell Brook has a reputation as a slick operator with excellent speed and heavy hands. Brook might have looked this way in his early career against journeymen opponents but against better fighters all three claims are patently untrue.

Brook lacks the power to keep an experienced and durable boxer off him. He didn’t discourage Matthew Hatton during their fight and he certainly wasn’t worrying Carson Jones on Saturday. The fact that both Hatton and Jones hit Brook, sometimes at will would suggest that his cat-like reflexes are perhaps a myth too.

Kell Brook might well go on to win multiple world titles and dominate the welterweight division. I’d be very happy to see him do so too. Unfortunately though, the people around Kell are telling him that he can run before he has even started walking. Saturday was Brook’s 28th professional contest and it was the first time he has been genuinely tested.

Some might claim that the lack of tests have been more about Brook’s skill than the ability of opponents. I am not entirely sure that I would agree with such an argument. One of the biggest fallacies about Saturday was Hearn’s claim that Carson Jones was a world level adversary for Brook.

Jones may well have been ranked no. 3 by the IBF but he is not in any other top ten. The WBC have the American ranked as low as 31 in the world. Rankings put out by sanctioning bodies are no indicator of ability. After all the WBO have seen fit to rate Frankie Gavin at no. 9 in their welterweight standings. These lists mean virtually nothing.

Looking beyond the nonsense generated by Sky Sports and Eddie Hearn on Saturday, what are we left with? A talented young fighter slowly realising that boxing might well be harder than he once thought. Brook looked lost in his post fight interview, like his aura of invincibility had been shattered. It was an aura built up by the likes of Hearn and Adam Smith and in doing so they have done Kell no favours whatsoever.