World Boxing News understands Kell Brook is on the verge of making the toughest decision of his career to step away.
The former welterweight world champion has fought just two bouts in the last two years. Prior to that, ‘The Special One’ had suffered broken orbital bones on either side of his face in successive losses.
Gennadiy Golovkin and Errol Spence did considerable damage to Brook in those defeats. The Yorkshireman is now contemplating packing it all in.
Brook had been hoping to entice Amir Khan for one last payday. But when Khan announced a fight in Saudi Arabia in July, Brook was once again left in the shade.
A world title fight with Terence Crawford has so far failed to materialize despite two months of opportunities to negotiate.
Growing frustrated, Brook is now staring into the possibility he’s fought his last fight.
Since turning professional in 2004, Brook has captured numerous titles on the road to the very pinnacle of the sport.
The first came in 2008 when Brook defeated Barrie Jones for the vacant British welterweight title.
Four successful defences followed. Brook then pushed into world title contention with a win over Michael Jennings.
Compatriot Jennings had fought Miguel Cotto just 18 months before. Brook was now being noticed by the top contenders.
Stepping up in class by overturning the likes of Philip Kotey, Lovemore Ndou and Rafael Jackiewicz, Brook then made his United States debut in 2011.
He halted Luis Galarza in five rounds at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Brook suddenly became a name of note in America at 147 pounds.
Heading back to British shores, ex-European champion and former Canelo Alvarez challenger Matthew Hatton was next in line.
A War of the Roses ensued at Sheffield Arena. Brook won a unanimous decision to the delight of the home crowd.
The then 28 year-old was fully ready for his world title shot. Whilst treading water, a certain Carson Jones came calling.
Set up as a warm-up for bigger things, Brook was expected to coast through the contest in front of his own fans.
Not so as the rugged American gave Brook the fright of his life, facially damaging the favorite and taking him a tough twelve rounds. Gaining a majority verdict, it was clear Brook was more fragile than first thought when shipping punches.
Dusting himself down, Brook scored one easy three-round victory before facing Jones in a rematch at Craven Park Stadium in Hull one year later. This time around, there was no taking the Oklahoma man lightly as Brook stopped Jones in eight.
Now the number one contender with the IBF, Brook was on the verge of getting his chance at the big time.
Wins over former world champion Vyacheslav Senchenko, fresh from his retirement win over Ricky Hatton, and Alvaro Robles at Liverpool’s Echo Arena led Brook to a massive chance back on US soil.
‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter now stood in the way of Brook and world title glory.
Heading across the Atlantic to Carson, California, Brook was the underdog as he challenged for the IBF championship. A close twelve-round war took place. Brook was crowned the new world ruler via a majority decision.
Less than a month later, Brook was in hospital after being stabbed in the leg and arm whilst on holiday.
After a period of recovery, Brook would be ready to re-ignite his title spell with question marks remaining over his lifestyle away from boxing.
Never really taking advantage of his position at the pinnacle, Brook fought three low-key and disappointing bouts against far lesser opposition.
Growing frustrated at failing to land Khan, even with the red belt in his possession, Brook took a big gamble when stepping up to middleweight.
Brook replaced Chris Eubank Jr. in facing the formidable knockout artist Gennadiy Golovkin at London’s O2 Arena.
In hindsight, it wasn’t the best move for Brook. Losing a firefight in five rounds, he would never be the same again.
A smashed face led to months on the sidelines. Brook was then expected to vacate his title and move up. Having struggled to make welterweight for some time, and looking more at home competing in a higher division, Brook mulled over heading to 154.
But facing pressure from the IBF to defend his belt, Brook felt obliged to take on America’s new hope in Spence.
Another loss, this time in front of his adoring fans at Brammall Lane, led to question marks over Brook’s career.
Answering his critics in devastating fashion, Brook took out Sergey Rabchenko in just two rounds in a debut at super-welterweight.
By now, reports of Brook living a less-than-perfect life outside the ring continued.
A win over Michael Zerafa remains the only encounter on Brook’s record in the last fifteen months. Whilst the Porter triumph is the solitary victory of considerable note in almost five years.
If we have seen the last of Brook, it will be a complete shame that he wasn’t able to capitalize on the realization of his dream in 2014.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay