In the wake of Kell Brook’s disastrous homecoming, debate has broken out as to whether the Sheffield native quit rather than go out on his shield.
As Spence Jr stood victorious, the accusations started that Brook had committed the cardinal sin of boxing. Giving up.
It remains one of the most troubling aspects of the boxing. Unlike other sports, we the baying public expect our competitors in the squared circle to behave like the gladiators of old.
To win our respect they must prove their mettle by soaking up punishment until the bitter end.
Failure to accept a brutal beating is often met with derision and accusations of cowardice from the press, fans and, perhaps most strongly, by a boxer’s peers.
This was evident in the aftermath of the fight. Both Tony Bellew and Amir Khan, Brook’s long time nemesis, were quick to criticize his heart and label the fighter a quitter.
It didn’t stop there. The wider boxing fraternity was quick to weigh in on Special K’s apparent lack of fight.
How can you quit in the 11 rd in front of 27,000 of your fans. Smh
— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) May 27, 2017
How do you just give up your world title with only 2 rounds to go because of a swollen eye? Congratulations Errol Spence.
— Chris Eubank Jr (@ChrisEubankJr) May 27, 2017
It would be quick and lazy journalism to join the masses in questioning Brooks fortitude and fighting spirit fight.
Let’s first be clear. No fighter who enters the ring can ever truly be questioned in the stakes of courage.
We must remember the tragedies that have engulfed boxing throughout the ages. One only needs to reflect on Michael Watson, Gerald Mcclellan or the recent tragedy that befell Nick Blackwell.
Boxers risk life and limb when they climb between the ropes. The accusation of human cockfighting is one often leveled at the sport. Whilst boxing remains the pinnacle of testing oneself in pure competition, it’s a criticism that we as fans must accept is partially true.
In relation to Brook. It’s important to state that yes, in the eleventh round he took a knee to escape a further barrage from the ascendant Spence Jr.
However, in the tenth round, one must remember that he’d already been knocked down.
His orbital bone had been broken, again. The very same injury that had befallen him in his last fight against the sport’s hardest puncher Gennady Golovkin.
It’s also the very same injury that nearly caused him to permanently lose vision in his left eye and for which he know has a titanium plate fitted into his skull.
If ever there was a time to quit. It would have been then in the tenth. Yet Brook chose not to. He weathered the storm and went on the offensive.
By the time the eleventh round started, Brook was well behind. More worryingly, he was absorbing further damage to a heavily damaged eye socket.
Unable to safely continue to fight Brook retreated backward, sinking to his knees.
Just nine months earlier Brook had been warned if he were to have fought a round more with the same injury he would likely now be blind.
Far from quitting Brook made took the only rational decision left to him. He took a knee as he was unable to defend himself.
Boxing is built around the maxim of protecting yourself at all times. We need to look at the most successful fighter ever, Floyd Mayweather, to understand this. He has made a career from hitting and not being hit. He forever espouses the mantra that ‘taking damage ain’t cool.’
That Brook went down only after giving all he could, should not be doubted. Rather, he should be lauded.
Boxing fans and commentators should be thankful that we don’t have to defend the sport from the accusations of barbarism in the face of Brook suffering a potentially career-ending injury.
What more do we really need to see? When is enough enough?
Brook was no quitter on Saturday night.
He proved himself to be a smart fighter who has lived to either fight another day or go off into the sunset with his key faculties still intact.
What do you think, did Brook take the easy option out?