(Left to right: Luke Campbell, Kell Brook and Tommy Coyle)
Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell makes his professional debut on Saturday at the home of Hull Kingston Rovers on Humberside. Kell Brook, 29-0 (17), and Carson Jones, 35-9-3 (25), headline alongside him while Lee Selby, Rocky Fielding, Anthony Ogogo, Curtis Woodhouse and John Ryder add padding to the Craven Park card. Scrap of the night is a lightweight needle match that pits Hull’s Tommy Coyle, 15-1 (6), against Liverpool veteran Derry Mathews, 32-8-2 (17).
While million dollar baby Campbell (awarded an MBE for his efforts in London) is set to sail past fellow novice Andy Harris, Brook is likely to have his hands full again with Jones. The pair engaged in a blistering squabble last summer, with Jones threatening, but ultimately failing, to overhaul Brook down the stretch. Since then, Brook, whose late fade prompted a conditioning overhaul, has fought only once – a quick blow-out over Argentinean Hector Saldivia. Jones meanwhile has managed a bitty draw and a simple win against middling oppositon in Dean Byrne (a late substitute for Lee Purdy) and Travis Hartman respectively.
Brook, Sheffield, Yorkshire, has been sidelined since October after a high-profile bout with Missouri’s Devon Alexander failed to materialise on no less than three separate occasions (after both fighters pulled up lame). Stranded at the drive-in, Alexander has since moved on and switched his sights to a match with Brook’s arch-enemy Amir Khan -- leaving Kell to revisit old ground in a bid to kickstart a career that has gone kaput.
Brook is a quick-fisted sharpshooter – a switch hitter who uses guile and lateral movement to outmaneuver his opponents. After suantering to a national welterweight title in 2008, he began the arduous task of bridging the gap to world class against solid but overmatched campaigners such as Lovemore Ndou, Rafal Jackiewicz and Matthew Hatton, all of whom he dealt with comfortably. It was a reposeful learning curve for the Dominic Ingle-trained contender -- until he ran into Jones.
A slow-burning menace, the American managed to impose himself upon Brook with each passing round. The stronger man physically, he stormed through “Special K’s” flashy assaults before reeling him in with a punishing body assault that he supplemented with spiteful left hooks to the head. Completely overrun in round 7, Brook had his nose broken in the 8th, leaving him smeared in his own blood and on the run as Jones continued to crawl all over him. Only a spirited retort in rounds 10 and 11 held the visitor at bay long enough to stop the rot – salvos delivered under severe duress that showed Brook was more than an unbeaten record and a few fancy moves.
Jones, Oklahoma, USA, has prepped for the rerun at The Summit Gym in Big Bear, California, under long-term mentor Abel Sanchez. Toiling alongside hardy standouts Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez, he has returned to the U.K. in feisty mood, promising to lay into Brook from the get-go -- which will be easier said than done.
The match has been made 152 lbs. -- presumably at the behest of the home team. Historically, Jones has performed far better at the welterweight limit (with all but one of his defeats coming beyond its confines). Despite having been halted only twice (with one of those highly contentious) in nine losses, he is far from impervious; Said Ouali, Jesus Soto Karass, Alfonso Gomez and Chicago-based Mexican Luciano Perez have all dimmed his lights. Under Sanchez, though, Jones appears to have attained a level of fitness that has granted him an extra layer of protection. Reared tough, he will be difficult to discourage once again.
Brook’s main concern will be whether he can broach 12 rounds at a fast clip after so long in the garage. If he can reproduce the form he showed over the first half of their previous battle – and crucially sustain it – he should run out a worthy winner on the scorecards. Jones, though, will have his moments and is unlikely to go quietly.
Lightweights Coyle and Mathews have been at odds with one another for months. The duo will contest the vacant Commonwealth title at 135 lbs. yet you detect this fight is about more than a few pound notes and a leather belt. “Boom Boom” Coyle, fighting under new trainer Jamie Moore (a former European junior middleweight champ), has some ground to make up on “Dirty” Derry who has been in fine fettle of late.
Coyle, 23, is busy-fisted and eager, yet he can leave himself wide open when tearing away with lunging hooks. Unfortunately for him, he appears to have lit a fire beneath Mathews. Derry, 30, can blow hot and cold and has been plagued by facial damage throughout his career, yet there has been an air of confidence about him during the build-up that is difficult to discount. In an even-money match with bookmakers, Mathews should have too much power and experience for the youngster (Coyle was in with journeyman Sid Razak, 9-110 , only three contests back and has only actually beaten two men with winning records) who he can polish off within eight rounds.
Welshman Lee Selby, 15-1 (6), a rising talent at featherweight, tackles unbeaten Romanian Viorel Simion, 16-0 (7), on the undercard while Driffield crowd-pleaser Curtis Woodhouse, 18-5 (12), slims down to lightweight to face Kent-based Morrocan Joe Elfidh, 7-3 (2), who has fumbled his last three.
Liverpool’s English super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding, 14-0 (8), and Islington middleweight John “The Gorilla” Ryder, 14-0 (8), have been handed gimmes against feather-fisted French trialhorse Youssouf Doumbia, 8-17-3 (1) and Spaniard Guzman Castillo, 9-4 (5), respectively while exciting middleweight prospect Anthony Ogogo is pitched in with Surrey’s Gary Boulden, 7-9 (0).