The big fight in Britain this weekend involves welterweights Kell Brook and Rafal Jackiewicz, a contest which can be viewed not only as a quarrel between contenders for world honours but also as a marrying of such contrasting individuals. Theirs would be a buddy movie beyond even the most contrived of parodies.
Brook, fighting at home at the Ponds Forge Arena in Sheffield, stands on the cusp of breaking into more glamorous circles. After forging a solid reputation while touring small halls and domestic arenas, the Yorkshire starlet will be looking to put in a shift of such quality, it would merit his consideration as a potential B-side to one of the major U.S. television network’s poster boys — the sort of showcase his compatriots have been snatching up with impunity over recent months. A Wincobank fighter in the truest sense, aside from the unorthodox movement, cat-like reflexes and one-punch stopping power, “Special K’s” greatest asset is his abundance of attitude.
His opponent, Jackiewicz, hails from Minsk Mazowiecki in central Poland. Nine years Brook’s senior at 34, “Braveheart” has shown enough resilience in his career to make Robert the Bruce’s spider appear unenthusiastic. After toiling to numbers of 15-8-1, a score which included lopsided losses to the likes of Ted Bami, Michael Jennings and Antonio Lauri, Jackiewicz’s prospects looked as promising as those of his native communist party.
Since losing a squeaker to Italian Gianmario Grassellini six years back, though, Jackiewicz has slogged his way to 23 wins in 24, an impressive run which includes notable victories over Jackson Bonsu, Delvin Rodriguez and Jan Zaveck. A hard-working and dogged competitor, he crouches behind a tight guard and likes to pump out a succession of piston-like jabs before rolling into his man with singular hooks to head or to body. He gives up nothing cheaply, as one might expect from a fighter who has arrived here via the long and winding route, and will contest every exchange as keenly as a barrister fresh from the bar.
Brook, 24-0 (16), is more Ryan Rhodes than Naseem Hamed. His solid base permits less theatrical raids than those synonymous with the latter, yet it also renders him less prone to being upended himself. Quick and athletic, Brook likes to probe with his jab and then draw an opponent’s lead before crashing home short, chopping hooks and uppercuts. Somewhat clunky at times, yet strong with it, Brook’s best win to date came against gatekeeper Lovemore Ndou earlier this year.
At home and on song, Brook should be able to overrule Jackiewicz’s diligence with well calculated and powerful assaults. Brook will be confident of whipping uppercuts between the visitor’s guard, yet will need to be mindful of leaving his head in the air as he does so; with Jackiewicz tunnelling into him, the prospect of heads coming together and marring what looks a potentially intriguing contest cannot be discounted. In a battle of attrition, Brook can edge home in front with a win that could grant him passage to the United States. There, an audience still skeptical about his style of fighting, a method which has yet to be transplanted into that part of the globe with any great success, shall await.