Will Kell Brook be the same going back to welterweight?
By Hector Franco
November 12, 2016
It was put out to the media yesterday that IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) has decided to return to the welterweight division. Waiting for him at welterweight is the mandatory for his title, Errol Spence (21-0, 18 KOs). It's come as a surprise too many fans that Brook would choose to go back down to the welterweight division. For years, fans have heard rumors about how much trouble Brook had making the welterweight limit.
These rumors seemingly became fact when this past September Brook moved up two weight classes to face middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin. At the 30-day weigh-in conducted by the WBC before the fight, Brook weighed 176-pounds. He outweighed Golovkin by 11 pounds that day. The fight itself was exciting while it lasted as Brook did well enough to win one or two rounds. Golovkin ended up being too much for Brook as the fight was stopped during the fifth round by Brook’s corner. The UK fighter suffered a broken orbital bone as a result of the fight.
Many thought that Brook would move to the 154-pound division after the loss to Golovkin. But for Brook, it was important to keep the title that he worked hard to get.
Brook seems confident about moving back down to welterweight. There is however, a precedent that a move back down in weight could have mixed results.
In the 1980’s, Thomas Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs) was a fighter who at one point fought in a different weight class every other fight. Hearns was already a welterweight and 154-pound champion before he faced Marvin Hagler for the undisputed middleweight title in 1985. After the fight with Hagler, he moved back down in weight and faced Mark Medal for the WBC 154-pound title. Two fights later, Hearns moved all the way up to the light heavyweight division and won the WBC light heavyweight title against Dennis Andries. In his very next fight, Hearns returned to the middleweight division to win the vacant WBC middleweight title against Juan Domingo Roldan. After losing the title in an upset to Iran Barkley, the Michigan fighter moved up to the newly formed 168-pound division. There he won another world title and had a rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard that was controversially called a draw. Hearns may have had some wins and losses moving up and down in weight so many times but Brook would be lucky to be even half as successful as “The Hitman”.
Brook may have to worry that he doesn’t suffer the same fate of another all-time great. Roy Jones (64-9, 46 KOs) was considered the best fighter in the world when he moved up to the heavyweight division. Jones soundly defeated John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title making him a four-division champion. He became the first former middleweight champion in 100 years to win a heavyweight title. After not being able to make any immediate fights with other heavyweights Jones decided to move back down to the light heavyweight division to defend his titles against Antonio Tarver. When Jones moved back down in weight he was never the same. The same fighter who had rarely lost rounds was now losing by knockout to fighters he would have dominated in his prime.
The move from welterweight to middleweight isn’t as dramatic as the move from light heavyweight to heavyweight. But the fact that Brook had so much trouble making welterweight before he faced Golovkin may be a sign that a move back down could do more damage than good. If Brook comes down in weight and shows that he is the same fighter, the welterweight division will be better for it. If not, Errol Spence will be the next IBF welterweight champion.
(Featured Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images)