BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
By Frank Warren
Kell Brook going out on his knee against Errol Spence jnr in Sheffield at the weekend has divided opinion and created plenty of debate in boxing circles.
I, for one, would much rather be discussing whether he quit or not than be entering into a period of soul searching in the wake of a potential life-changing injury.
Of course, viewers who are not in the habit of scoring fights as they go along were possibly lulled into thinking Brook was on the verge of retaining his IBF title with the Sky Sports cheerleading in full swing and, increasingly, Tony Bellew is becoming the only sane voice!
We preach safety first in this sport and are always seeking ways to further protect the wellbeing of boxers, so we can hardly complain when someone – Kell in this instance – takes it into his own hands and saves himself from further punishment, which some say is not what they paid for.
It still remains the case, however, that the most gutsy fighters need saving from themselves and their determination to go out on their feet. I think this is what Bellew was intimating in his post-fight comments and I understand where he is coming from.
Back in 2000 at the Wembley Conference Centre, Danny Williams refused to countenance pulling out against Mark Potter after sustaining a dislocated shoulder in a British and Commonwealth title fight. I wanted him to call it a night, but he boxed for something like three rounds with the injury and somehow managed to force a sixth round stoppage.
Just last week I had a little pop at Mitchell Smith over his questionable conditioning ahead of his bout at the Copper Box, only to discover a few days after the event that he went into the fight with a fracture in his foot.
Notwithstanding that he should’ve come clean about the injury beforehand, it just demonstrates the desire of these boys to fight on and not to let anyone down. It also rendered my intended gee-up in last week’s column a bit redundant!
Everybody in this sport needs to be vigilant regarding injuries and, more importantly, honest with each other. Whether people think any the less of you is immaterial because a thrilling finish to a fight is one thing, a tragic ending is quite another.
Hopefully Kell will come again, although matching eye injuries doesn’t sound too promising at this stage and I wish him well, but I do suspect his protracted potential punch-up with Amir Khan is of diminishing public appeal.
Yes it will still be of interest domestically if it doesn’t drag out for another year or so, but interest worldwide must surely be on the wain, with the pair having now suffered three bad losses between them in their recent fights.
Congratulations to George Groves on finally getting his hands on a world title belt.
I always bang on about a defeat not being the end of the road for fighters if they show the resolve and mental toughness to go again and George is proof of the pudding.
If at first you don’t succeed – in George’s case – try, try and try again. More often than not, the rewards are there if you want it enough.
More from Frank tomorrow on why TV must play fair with the fans