ESPN’s questioning of Kell Brook showed a serious lack of compassion, writes George Gigney as he reviews the boxing media
THERE’S no doubt that Terence Crawford looked excellent in dispatching Kell Brook at the weekend, making the necessary adjustments to stymie the Brit’s spirited efforts in the first three rounds to wipe him out in the fourth.
While Brook’s boxing future looks a lot more uncertain now, that’s no excuse for the disrespect he faced from the ESPN broadcast team after the fight. Interviewed by Mark Kriegel after the fight, Brook fielded no questions on his own future, and was continually pressed on “who is better – Crawford or Errol Spence?” with Kriegel clearly trying to lead Brook to say Crawford, since Spence took 11 rounds to stop Brook.
To Kell’s credit, he remained respectful and polite while also paying credit to Crawford and offering no excuses for the loss. After his interview, the ESPN commentary team even told Brook to “go back to Sheffield…with your $2 million.” This probably wasn’t said with much malicious intent, but it certainly came across as crass.
A former world champion whose only losses have come to Crawford, Spence and Gennady Golovkin – all of whom are widely considered to be amongst the best in the world – surely deserves a bit more respect.
As mentioned, Brook’s prospects now look a lot slimmer, particularly given his recent rift with Eddie Hearn, but in the immediate aftermath of a world title tilt, there’s no need for him to be demoted to just another tool through which Crawford is promoted.
In the chief support, Joshua Franco held onto his watered-down super-flyweight title after his bout with Andrew Moloney was declared a no-contest. Unable to see out of a swollen eye after two rounds, Franco was deemed to have been the victim of an accidental headbutt. That is simply not true.
Spending almost three times the length of the fight itself to review footage, Robert Byrd and Bob Bennett of the Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled that a clash of heads caused the swelling. While this decision was being made, ESPN’s broadcast showed numerous replays of the supposed incident which made it clear that punches from Moloney caused the swelling, not a headbutt. To their credit, the commentary team – in particular Tim Bradley – repeatedly shot down the head-clash theory.
Still, the decision stands and boxing looks all the worse for it. The decision even prompted an Instagram post from Dame Helen Mirren – yes, you read that right.
Crawford’s long-time partnership with Top Rank could be drawing to an end, according to a report from The Athletic.
‘Bud’’s attorney sent a letter to Top Rank airing several grievances; chiefly that Crawford has not yet had a “big money, breakthrough fight.” His current contract with Top Rank ends in October 2021, according to the report.
In a subsequent piece, Bob Arum spoke to The Athletic about the situation, dropping some pretty startling lines.
“The question is, ‘Do we want to keep him?’ I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights,” he said. “He’s got to promote like [Teofimo] Lopez does, Shakur [Stevenson] does. Like [Floyd] Mayweather did, [Manny] Pacquiao did. If he doesn’t, then who the f**k needs him? He may be the greatest fighter in the world, but hey, I ain’t going bankrupt promoting him.”
One could argue that it’s Arum’s role – as promoter – to do the promoting, though he does have a point. Crawford has been one of the world’s best fighters for several years now but has struggled to break into the mainstream. He’s a star in his hometown of Omaha, but beyond that he does not move the needle much.
Ultimately there’s probably blame on both sides; you can argue that Crawford’s job is simply to fight, something he does exceptionally well, however in this day and age it’s naive to think that’s a fighter’s only role. Self-promotion is an integral part of the game now, for better or worse.
However with Top Rank, Crawford is alienated from the other elite welterweights, most namely Errol Spence. Should he split from the promotional outfit, he’d theoretically be free to make some of the biggest fights in the sport.
It appears as though Tyson Fury will no longer be fighting before the end of the year after he declared on Twitter that he’ll be returning in 2021 instead. It had previously been thought he’d fight Agit Kabayel on December 5 in the UK.
According to reports this is, in part, down to the fact that there is still a chance Fury will need to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time. Wilder’s team have apparently taken their case to an arbitration judge who will decide whether the rematch clause – which has allegedly already expired – still stands.
Hopefully this doesn’t drag out and, frankly, hopefully it doesn’t lead directly to a trilogy fight between the pair. Wilder seemingly has his own issues to sort out – issues laid bare in his bizarre accusations since losing to Fury – and Tyson could face off with fellow Brit Anthony Joshua instead.
At the age of 28, British heavyweight Dave Allen announced his retirement, just over a week before he was set to return to action.
Allen – always brutally honest and never one to shy away from a fight – appears to have made the right choice. He’s had memorable successes in the ring, but has also suffered some punishing defeats against the likes of Luis Ortiz and David Price.
In fact, it was apparently a recent sparring session with Oleksandr Usyk – footage of which Allen shared on social media – that helped convince him to make this decision. It goes without saying that we wish him the best for the future.