With Kell Brook set to defend his IBF welterweight title against Errol Spence Jr in May, Brook has gotten some credit from fans and media for actually going through with the mandatory defense.
But Spence says that Brook tried to avoid the fight, he just couldn’t:
"He was trying to find a way out. First he was looking for another title-holder. He was looking to fight either Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman. But they're fighting each other, so he was looking for Manny Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao wasn't interested, so he was trying to fight Amir Khan.
"Then that fell through, so I was high last option. There was nobody at 154 for him to fight. Canelo already had a fight with somebody and the rest of the guys are with Al Haymon. He really didn't have any options but to fight me, so that's where he went."
Spence (21-0, 18 KO) isn’t really wrong in the breakdown here, at least as far as we know. Brook (36-1, 25 KO) did say he was considering a move to 154 pounds after fighting Gennady Golovkin at 160 last fall, but that his main priority was finding the biggest fight. And we do know that there were at least talks with Amir Khan again, and that a unification fight with Garcia, Thurman, or Pacquiao would probably have resulted in bigger money and more headlines.
But with none of those fighters available or willing, that left Spence. Ultimately, though, Brook didn’t try to avoid the fight in terms of looking for an easier fight, so the criticism still rings a little hollow to me. Brook looked for, frankly, a bigger fight. When he couldn’t find one, he got a deal done for the Spence bout.