Brook vs Zerafa: Kell Brook taken the distance by Michael Zerafa in Sheffield
'The Special One' is now mandatory to WBA champion Jarrett Hurd.
By Matt Horan
Last Updated: 09/12/18 10:25am
Kell Brook earned a unanimous decision after a hard-fought win over Michael Zerafa at the Sheffield Arena.
Despite dominating through 12 rounds, the Sheffield fighter was under par and forced to work for a 118-110, 119-109 and 117-111 verdict in a final eliminator for the WBA super-welterweight world title.
Brook, who had trainer John Fewkes in his corner for the first time, admitted afterwards that he was flat but hopes it may now land him a big fight.
Once again in his Sheffield hometown and with a fervent crowd roaring him on, Brook did show razor-sharp reflexes early on, effortlessly planting his feet and stabbing home a ramrod jab, throwing hooks around the guard.
The Melbourne man's face reddened with every shot in the opener and, following a minute respite, 'The Special One' again marched forward with intent, landing a brilliant three-shot combination, Zerafa's bloodied nose adding to the away man's problems and an early finish looked on the cards.
Despite the fast start though, Zerafa gamely grew into the contest in the next few, still eating shots but also managing to find some neat salvos of his own before the fifth saw him have significant success, Brook still on the offensive but again being met by a series of thudding right hands.
The Sheffield man exploded back into control in the sixth though, showing his strength to bulldoze forward and land a series of chopping right hooks as a short left also rocked his man. He then hunted the stoppage in the next, hammering home at will with both hands.
Things then began to slightly unravel for Brook with 'Pretty Boy' standing upright and trading when in range, the Brit failing to move his head and evade shots, Zerafa's clapping right hand regularly landing clean.
Looking perplexed in the corner, Brook's sloppiness became even more apparent in the following rounds, the right hand continued to freely catch him and, after an impressive eighth for the Australian, the ninth saw Zerafa have his best round - forcing the Brit onto the ropes, landing a relentless five-shot salvo with nothing back in return.
As the contest entered the championship rounds, Brook continued to menacingly let his hands go, still on top, but Zerafa stood strong, jumping in with thumping combinations of his own.
Looking to close the show, 'The Special One' came out firing in the last but he was again met head-on, the Melbourne hitter matching him punch for punch to brilliantly take the fight the distance.
"It was harder than I expected, it was a bit rusty," Brook said afterwards, "The opponents might grow a pair now and think they can take care of me.
"It's the best training camp I've ever had, tonight I was a bit flat. we all know I have it in my arsenal to be special."