World champ Kell breaks off to visit snooker

IBF welterweight world champion Kell Brook is a big snooker fan.
IBF welterweight world champion Kell Brook is a big snooker fan.
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Sheffield’s World champion boxer Kell Brook has a busy few months ahead.

Having defended his IBF title in his home city in March, he fights again in London on Saturday, May 30 and, if successful, has his sights set on yet another defence before the summer is out.

However, he has still made sure he finds time to visit The Crucible.

In fact, he has told his promoter Eddie Hearn to make sure of the opportunity.

Born and raised in Sheffield, growing up in Shirecliffe and Hillsborough, Brook has naturally witnessed the buzz the World Snooker Championship brings to the city each spring.

Last August, he travelled to Los Angeles to challenge Shawn Porter for the IBF World Welterweight title.

It was the moment he had been building towards since turning professional 10 years earlier.

Neither fighter had ever lost a professional bout, and Brook was the underdog.

However, despite a slow start he was able to impose himself on the champion.

When the judges scores were read out, the numbers were followed by the words ‘and the new’ – Kell was World Champion.

Kell Brook floors Jo Jo Dan in their fight at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Kell Brook floors Jo Jo Dan in their fight at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Floyd Mayweather Jr and Amir Khan were just two potential opponents touted at the time for mega-fights against the Sheffield man.

But a vicious and unprovoked machete attack while on holiday in Tenerife with his family, leaving Brook with a life-threatening leg injury, put his plans on hold.

Once the fear for his life had been overcome, the fear Kell’s career may not extend beyond that night in LA remained very real.

Fortunately, he made a full recovery and was able to defend his title at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena against mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in March.

It is great for our city that the World Championship is at the Crucible.

Kell Brook, IBF welterweight world champion

Finally, Kell, who now lives in Grenoside, was able to walk out in front of his hometown crowd as a world champion.

In the ring he did the business, and did it in style, dishing out a devastating four-round beating to his Romanian-Canadian opponent.

Kell was the favourite, but the style of his win sent out a chilling warning to his rivals.

A fight with Khan, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist and former WBA and IBF world light welterweight champion, has long been touted.

However, with Khan set to fight Chris Algieri, Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin will be the next challenger to Kell’s crown, with that fight the pick of a massive Sky Sports Box Office bill which features three World title showdowns at London’s O2 Arena at the end of the month.

The winner is likely to fight hard-hitting American former world lightweight champion Brandon Rios.

Kell Brook with his world title belt. Picture: Andrew Roe.

Kell Brook with his world title belt. Picture: Andrew Roe.

That meant that no sooner had he retained his title against Dan, Kell was straight back to the gym, where training for a world title defence is a long and enduring process.

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A quiet game of snooker between friends and gym-mates is a welcome and relaxing escape from the intensity of training.

Kell says: “I have watched snooker since I was a young lad. I used to like watching Stephen Hendry and that era of players.

“I would go every Saturday and Sunday when the snooker was on to my cousin’s house and we would watch it on TV.

“I got into it and being from Sheffield, you are always going to have your eye on it when it is at The Crucible.

“I am a fan of Ronnie O’Sullivan and I like to watch Judd Trump too, they are exciting, attacking players.

“I went a few years ago and was lucky enough to see them both playing.

“There has always been a buzz around Sheffield when the snooker is on, people are talking about it. It is great for our city that the World Championship is at The Crucible.

“It’s a good game and I like to play. When I am in training camp, myself and a few of the lads will go and have a game. It splits it up a bit; instead of the tough combat we can relax and have a nice game

of snooker.

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“The reaction from my fans and the people of Sheffield when I won the world title meant a lot to me. I had that long layoff and getting myself back on track, the thought of fighting in the Motorpoint Arena and the fans who all wanted to see me do that, that did it for me.

“The fans in Sheffield are passionate about their sport and to be from there and be able to perform there is fantastic.

“Gavin has wanted to fight me for many years. He has looked at me and told me he knows how to beat me. So on May 30 we will see if that is the case.

“I wanted to be out soon after the Dan fight, and it is a quick turnaround to fight just two months later, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

“Everybody loves an all-British World title showdown and Gavin is the only other Brit with the balls to get in the ring with me.

“He was eorld amateur champion and has been tipped to be a eorld champion as a professional too.

“I am willing to fight Khan and he would be jumping the queue to a world title fight as it is, I am only doing it because the fans are on me every day asking when I am going to fight him.”

While that fight remains one for the future, Kell certainly is not.

The latest in a line of world champion boxers from Sheffield, a trip to the Crucible is set to provide him the perfect anecdote to a gruelling training process as he prepares to face Gavin.

* This article first appeared in the Betfred World Snooker Championship 2015 official programme.

Kell Brook is declared the winnger against Jo Jo Dan at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Kell Brook is declared the winnger against Jo Jo Dan at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The Betfred World Snooker Championship 2015 official programme.

The Betfred World Snooker Championship 2015 official programme.