Kell Brook (38-2) secured a unanimous decision win over Michael Zerafa (25-3) in a WBA super-welterweight final eliminator at the Sheffield Arena on Saturday night.
Despite winning by a wide margin on the judges scorecards, Brook admitted he felt a bit rusty having made his first outing in the ring since his second-round stoppage victory against Sergey Rabchenko nine months ago.
This fight would be his first without long-time mentor Dominic Ingle in the corner, with Brook now linking up with new trainer John Fewkes.
Hoping that his under-par performance will entice the big names to take him on, 2019 could be a big year for the ‘Special One’ with options at both welterweight and super-welterweight.
Here, Joseph Siza explore some of the potential fights Brook could have coming his way in the New Year:
A fight with America’s unified WBA and IBF super-welterweight champion is a realistic option for 2019, as Brook is now his mandatory challenger following Saturday’s underwhelming win against Zerafa. Hurd, who recently defeated fellow Brit and former British middleweight champion Jason Welborn, carries a four-inch height advantage over the Sheffield hometown hero, but Brook has already gone on record to state he feels comfortable at 154lbs and will look at operating in that division, should the big names at 147lbs not take him on.
The Maryland-born fighter, nicknamed 'Swift', has been heavily linked with a unification bout with WBC champion Jermell Charlo, which would take priority over a mandatory defense, so Brook may be waiting longer than expected for a title shot if he opted to go down this route.
Four years on from clinching the IBF welterweight crown in California against Shawn Porter, the 32-year-old has entertained the prospect of a rematch with the American, who now holds the WBC title following his victory over Danny Garcia. Porter currently has a title defense scheduled for March against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas, so Brook would have to wait until the second quarter of 2019 at the minimum for the opportunity to face his former foe.
'The Special One', who weighed in for Saturday’s contest at 150lbs, has reiterated his confidence in being able to make the welterweight limit for the big fights, stating that he is back in love with the sport again, has another four or five years left in him and will resume training again on Monday. Porter has lost just once since their clash, which came to a points defeat against Keith Thurman in a thrilling battle, but has also picked up notable wins against Adrien Broner, Adrian Granados, Andre Berto as well as his title win.
Brook has made it no secret that he would relish a second opportunity to share the ring with Errol Spence Jr, after losing his title to the American at Bramall Lane back in May 2017. ‘Special K’ sustained a fractured eye socket at the mid-way stage during the contest and has stated that this was the primary reason he lost the fight, having taken an early lead on the scorecards. Spence Jr is currently preparing for his super-fight against pound-for-pound star Mikey Garcia, who is bidding to become a five-weight world champion. Whilst it is far from assumed that the 2012 Olympian will come through the fight with a victory, a move up in weight could be a future target because just like Brook, Spence Jr is a big welterweight. Although both fighters have spoken about a rematch at the 154lbs limit in the past, the 28-year-old has insisted this would only take place if Brook brought a title to the table.
How could a news feature on Kell Brook not include Amir Khan? Both Brook and promoter Eddie Hearn have claimed that it is ‘now or never’ regarding the fight between these two and that if the fight doesn’t happen next, the contest has gone beyond its sell by date. With negotiations between both camps seemingly being positive, the chances of the fight taking place has now taken a blow with reports stating that Khan is close to agreeing a fight with WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford. However, there is still life in the fight between the two, with the Bolton man posting a video of himself on social media shaking his head whilst watching the Brook fight on TV, whilst the Sheffield fan favourite claimed in his post-fight interview that he was willing to agree to the rehydration clause team Khan had proposed in the initial negotiations. Hearn has pencilled in a provisional date in early March for the proposed bout, as well as making it clear to Khan that the Brook fight will not still be available, should he opt to take Crawford on first. Whilst the fight may not feature the same excitement and anticipation it could have done in the past, it is still the most logical step for both fighters to take with them both able to draw confidence from watching each other’s most recent fights.