It hasn’t been an entirely exciting start to 2013 from a British standpoint. Not that the calendar year is unfamiliar with slow starts as far as boxing is concerned, but this one has been particularly disappointing in the first five weeks.
Nobody will be more disappointed than Kell Brook. The undefeated welterweight from Sheffield has split opinion as to whether or not he can actually become a convincing world champion at 147lbs, but he certainly deserves a chance to try his luck in the near future.
That “near future” should have been on January 19, against IBF champion Devon Alexander in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, fate intervened and an ankle injury sustained by ‘Special K’ forced a reschedule.
That would have been in a shade over two weeks, in Detroit. Then, just to add further misery upon Brook, his promoters and the British fanbase waiting for their 2013 first boxing card of massive interest, it was Devon’s turn to get hurt.
"Can't put into words how gutted I am," Brook said on Twitter after Alexander’s bicep injury postponed the February 23 bout once more.
And then, a couple of days later, possible news broke via the social media platform to leave Brook feel sick as a parrot.
The tweet in question came from the man currently sitting on top of the pound-for-pound world, according to the sport’s elite panel of experts:
Floyd Mayweather @FloydMayweather "The negotiations for my fight are almost done. The front runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. It’d be a unification bout at welterweight."
Floyd Mayweather last fought on the 2012 Cinco de Mayo weekend against Miguel Cotto. After a much-publicised jail stint and yet another round of failed negotiations with Manny Pacquiao, it became known that ‘Money’ wanted “two huge fights in 2013”.
Given that Floyd Jr. is the owner of the two biggest non-heavyweight fights in history, and both (Cotto and Oscar de la Hoya in 2007) were Cinco supershows featuring the world’s best against a formidable Latino favourite, names such as Robert Guerrero and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez were bandied about by excited fight fans.
After rumours of a Superbowl half-time announcement of his next opponent died down, the above tweet came as quite the surprise, especially considering Alexander’s apparent commitment to giving Brook his earned title shot as mandatory challenger.
Of course it’s understandable why ‘The Great’ would favour this legal licence to print money in a unification bout over a far less lucrative defence against the unproven at world level Brook. But according to his governing body, he does not have a choice.
Noting that Alexander had 90 days to request an additional bout before his mandatory defence – as Wlad Klitschko successfully did earlier this month – which expired in January after Devon’s title win and Kell’s eliminator victory on October 20 – the IBF said: "We have not received any requests or information on this from either camp.
"Because Alexander is under contract to fight Brook he would not be granted an exception to fight Mayweather."
Of course, with the money he would make up against Floyd on such a huge weekend for the sport (and as Mayweather v Mosley proved, having Latino presence in the main is merely desirable, not a must), perhaps Alexander is fine with the prospect of being stripped of his title for not honouring the Brook defence after all.
And at least the Brit is keeping focused on the primary goal - becoming a world title-holder, regardless of who against or when.
Brook took to Twitter again to state: "I have been in camp for 12 weeks I want to do damage. Alexander, a vacant belt or even Mayweather I don't care!” – and hopefully for his sake, this mess is cleared up soon.
Hopefully for our sake, the resolution is the exciting introduction to world championship boxing for ‘The Special One’ that makes for a cracking evening’s entertainment, after all of the false starts and delays.
There could be a huge title unification bout before May, provided further office desk messes are tidied up in time. Nonito Donaire, the British Eurosport and Yahoo! US pick (as well as many others) for 2012 fighter of the year, could pen a deal to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13 in a WBA v WBO super bantamweight dream match.
The news that the two were in negotiations was enough to convince Abner Mares, the WBC kingpin who had hoped to snare the first crack at either man in a title v title scenario, to decide to relinquish his belt and move up to flyweight.
Legal issues surrounding Cuban Rigondeaux’s ex-promoters is holding things up, however, with Vic Darchinyan on standby if Filipino Flash needs a new opponent.
Provided all goes well on that front, we at least have three huge springtime cards to look forward to, assuming Mayweather finds a suitable opponent (don’t rule out Guerrero just yet, but Canelo is a more likely September foe) and injury doesn’t strike down Froch-Kessler II (set for May 25 at the o2 Arena in London).
Don’t forget, of course, Martin Murray’s April 27 jaunt to Argentina to challenge Sergio Martinez for the WBC middleweight crown, and Ricky Burns beginning his hopeful 2013 unification tour at Wembley Arena on March 16 against Miguel Vasquez.
Oh, and, erm, who can forget Dereck Chisora possibly returning to the ring that same night in Wembley? And Audley Harrison’s February 23 Prizefighter return at York Hall?
At least 2013 is finally threatening to eventually shift into top gear.