Dave Oakes previews Saturday's Sky Sports main-event between Kell Brook and Carson Jones.
Kell Brook takes another step-up in class this Saturday night when he headlines a magnificent card at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield. He takes on Carson Jones in what’s being billed as an eliminator for the IBF title - although winning an eliminator means very little these days, just ask Ajose Olusegun.
Casual fans looking at the two combatants records might be wondering why Jones is considered a threat to Brook’s unbeaten record, a closer examination reveals that Jones has been matched hard during his career and has done well to build his record up after a rocky beginning.
The American, 34-8-2 (24), has only lost once in his past nineteen fights - against Rogerio Pereira in a fight which Jones claims to have been on the bad side of a debateable split-decision. He hasn’t been soundly beaten since he was dropped and outpointed by Jesus Soto Karass over three years ago and he seems to be a much improved boxer these days.
Jones certainly hasn’t been shy in the build-up to the fight, trying to antagonise and belittle Brook at every opportunity, which is fine if he can back it up but not so good if he’s on the end of a pasting. Jones’ confidence is sky high after two good stoppage victories over Said Ouali and Ricardo Williams last year. Not to take anything away from those victories but Ouali really isn’t that good and Williams has never dedicated himself fully and is a shell of the fighter that was an amateur sensation. Nevertheless, Jones did a job on them and Brook has to respect him come Saturday night.
It’s been plain sailing for Brook thus far, he’s unbeaten in twenty-seven fights and has never been in danger of losing. He’s gradually taken on better opposition as he’s progressed, winning the British title along the way. Jones represents another step-up in level but not one which poses humungous danger, he’s a level below world class and Brook must handle him well if he’s to go on to world level, which he’s not far off.
It could be an intriguing battle technically, both prefer to counter-punch, both hit with respectable power and both have good speed, although Brook looks like he may have a slight advantage in the latter two. The biggest difference for me is ability, Jones is someone who has had to work hard to improve his defence, head movement and footwork, whereas Brook is a naturally gifted boxer, everything looks easy to him.
It’s admirable how Jones has worked so hard to improve on the weaknesses he had, he doesn’t get caught clean as much as he did earlier in his career and isn’t so overzealous and square-on in his approach work. That said, it will be interesting to see how he responds if Brook starts picking him off at range, there’s a good chance bad habits may reappear if he’s forced to change tactics.
The opening rounds may be nip and tuck, with both fighters reluctant to take the initiative. I can see Brook becoming more aggressive as the fight progresses, beating Jones to the punch and putting together two and three punch combinations. Jones won’t be blown away, he’s a tough customer and a good fighter, he has a chance but it’s a slim one.
The popular pick here is for Brook to win on points in a close but comfortable fight for the Sheffield man. However, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Brook will be looking to do something spectacular to catch the eye of the American fans tuning in, and for that reason, I fancy him to stop Jones around the ninth round in a career best performance.