Pride but pain at packed Bramall Lane as eye injury No 2 sees Brook dethroned by Spence

It's all over for Kell Brook at Bramall Lane
It's all over for Kell Brook at Bramall Lane

Boxing has made Kell Brook rich and famous - but in the last eight months it has revealed its brutally cruel flip-side to him, too.

On Saturday night, a nasty left-eye injury forced the Sheffield warrior to fall on his shield in the worldwide event he’d waited for all of his life, at his beloved Bramall Lane.

An 11th-round technical knockout against Errol Spence Jr at Sheffield United’s packed stadium was as painful as the wound which caused double vision and eventually caused him to concede on one knee.

His latest facial injury chimed with an even nastier right-eye socket fracture he received in his previous fight, a middleweight defeat at the hands of the pound-for-pound king, Gennady Golovkin.

These twin injuries peel away at the superficial glamour of boxing - it can be a devastatingly unpleasant business for anybody brave enough to climb in to the ring, let alone compete at such an elite level.

But while our sympathy and local pride is with Brook, who later confirmed he had broken his eye socket, today British fight fans have to acknowledge Spence.

Defeated Brook is led back to his corner

Defeated Brook is led back to his corner

We’d all come to hail Brook, but we went away recognising that the hype about the “next best thing” from America was actually “The Truth” - to use the American’s nickname.

Before the start, he looked utterly unfazed as “Inger-land”-style spectators in the football ground booed his national anthem before bellowing out their own.

He was prepared as strong mentally as he was physically - as he was about to prove.

In round one, the visitor in gold and white tassled shorts showed he was not going to be bossed around by Brook’s famous Steel City jab.

The fighters embrace

The fighters embrace

The Ingle man was switching and testing, but the Texan was often quicker on the draw and skilled at shooting to the body.

Brook had his moments, but a series of rapier-fast punches from his opponent meant the first half of the fight was drawn, at best.

Spence, four years the younger man, had flown 4,650 miles to take on the Ecclesall world champion and his longer, sharper reach was telling.

Desperation was setting in. Brook occasionally laid himself open as he sought to change the way the fight was going.

Fight action

Fight action

The Yorkshireman, though, had the American staggering back in the sixth, in a round that got the partisan crowd back into it.

But Brook’s body language was at times concerning; he was clearing his sinuses more often than normal and in the eighth round that eye looked like it was starting to close.

Ringside, city ring legend Naseem Hamed was waving his Sheffield pal to come forward and Brook raised his hand to the fans at the end of the ninth ... but it was all based on bravado rather than supremacy.

A faltering Brook was peppered by combinations at the start of 10th and was knocked to the canvas, blinking hard as he tried to regain his composure.

He looked on his way out.

He bravely rallied but was to last only 107 seconds into the next session, when he took to his knee, beaten by a lack of visibility and a fighter who had by now had really come on strong despite later rating his own performance as “B minus”.

Concern over the eye injury

Concern over the eye injury

After his awful experience in his last fight, Brook had too much sense to wait for his coach to throw in the towel again, and did the right thing by kneeling to the canvas.

He had stopped seven out of eight of his last welterweight victims, but now the tide had turned.

There was a mixture of boos and some applause for Spence, the new IBF welterweight champ- and then the stands emptied quicker than if Sheffield United had conceded three last-minute goals.

Brook had been world champion for 1,015 days, but now that reign was over.

The “gutted” 31-year-old Flashing Blade will come again.

He apologised to his fans, drew comfort from bringing the city together and pledges he can make welterweight again if that is what is required by his promoter and team.

Spence, famed for becoming the first boxer to stop Chris Algieri, something Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan couldn’t manage - will take some beating, though, should a re-match happen.

Maybe it’s time to go up to light-middleweight, after all.

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The new champ

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