It proved to be a classic battle where most, if not all, of the rounds were only won by one fighter with a slim margin. But with one flurry in the 11th round, and an eye injury, Kell Brook went down, giving the win and IBF welterweight title to Errol Spence Jr in their May 27 bout in Sheffield, England.
Spence entered the bout undefeated, while Brook had just one loss on his record, though he was unbeaten at welterweight — the loss came in his last bout, when he stepped up two weight classes to challenge Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight world title. In that bout, Brook would injure an eye, which did end up playing a role in the closing moments of the bout.
The boxing community’s scorecards were all split and over the place as the fight went on. The common theme seemed to be that if one fighter took the first 90 seconds of a round, the other fighter would take control in the final 90. From early on, Spence seemed to lower his counterpunching a bit in order to land more jabs and shots to the body. Brook, meanwhile, landed jabs of his own while looking to land a big uppercut.
The eighth round saw Spence get knocked around a bit, but Spence may have won that round with late, hard shots in the clinch. It was noted Brook’s legs were a bit wobbly in the ninth, and that ultimately hurt him in the 10th, as Brook went down to the canvas for the second time in his career. Brook, though, recovered nicely and seemed to be back in it.
But in the 11th round, a good series of shots to the body from Spence forced Brook to take a knee. Brook, at this point, was also holding the same eye he hurt in the fight with Golovkin, apparently hurt again. The fight was waved off in the 11th after the referee counted to 10.
Spence becomes the fourth U.S. Olympian to win his first world boxing title outside of the U.S.
After the bout, Spence made it clear he’s next looking for a unification bout with Keith Thurman, and maybe one day a bout with legend Manny Pacquiao. Brook’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, meanwhile, said he feels Brook should step up a weight class and possibly fight Amir Khan next.