One single punch from Kell Brook told sports scientist Dave Hembrough all he needed to know.
The Hallam University conditioning specialist had started working with Sheffield’s top fighter a couple of months before his last bout, against Argentinian Hector Saldivia.
“He stopped him with a jab” recalled Hembrough, referring to the third round TKO at Sheffield Arena last October.
“To me, it demonstrated his condition. It illustrated leg and hip strength and a great sense of range to connect with the chin. It told me he was fit for purpose.”
Hembrough got involved with Brook a year ago when the boxer had struggled to a points win over Carson Jones, whom he faces again, on Saturday, at Craven Park Stadium, Hull. Initially, the University man investigated his new student’s previous training regimes and lifestyle, along with nutrition expert David Stache.
“We looked at what he was good and - and what he was not so good at.
“In endurance terms, he was reasonably fit.
“We modernised some aspects of his training, along with his coach Dominic Ingle, and applied some scientific methods.
“It included intensive interval training, checks on heart-rate, lactate testing and a look at his work-rest ratio.”
If that sounds complicated, the philosophy behind it is not. Winning sporting battles is often about fine margins, and Hembrough wants the sportsmen and women he helps to achieve the maximum they are capable of.
For instance, Brook has considerably increased the ‘ground’ he can cover on the Hallam treadmill, in an hour. And overall, Hembrough believes he may have increased some aspects of his fitness by 30 per cent, when his body is at his peak.
Brook may not be quite at his peak now, despite Saturday’s appointment.
He was at that pinnacle before he broke a bone in his foot before a planned assault on Devon Alexander’s IBF welterweight world title.
The Grenoside man has had to rehabilitate since then and will be fighting at catchweight on Saturday.
Of his level of conditioning, Hembrough says: “I am happy where he is, given the circumstances and constraints he has been under. He is in a good place.
“He is in for a tough fight but he goes in with great form and I can see him winning, going on to a big fight in September and then becoming world champion.”
* Injury has hit Sheffield fighters Adam Etches and Scott Jenkins. Etches says he has had to pull out of a bout planned for July 19 because of an “ongoing hand problem.” The 22-year-old hurt himself sparring last week. “I am going to try and stay and shape and be positive, it’s one of those things that happens in boxing” he said. “Scott wasn’t 100 per cent, so the show had to be called off.”