Delight and relief appeared to be the two overriding emotions from Kell Brook and his team after the 27-year-old Brit passed his "toughest test" against Vyacheslav Senchenko on Saturday in Sheffield, England, with a fourth-round TKO victory.
As sounds of triumph bellowed around the Motorpoint Arena for the local hero, Brook mouthed to his trainer, Dominic Ingle, "Thank f--- for that" after his career was rescued from the potential obscurity that could have followed a defeat.
After the wake-up call that was his first contest against Carson Jones (a majority-decision win after a trip to hell and back in July 2012), it had been hoped that Brook would rub his eyes and realize the word "potential" had been placed over his head for far too long and that he would throw it away for good. Fast-forward 15 months, and "All of the Lights" -- the tune that Brook walks out to -- were more or less switched on, but with one still flickering against the 36-year-old Ukranian.
Brook controlled and, for the most part, dominated Senchenko despite suffering a wobble of his own in the fourth round. The fact of the matter is that boxing fans are never going to know how good "The Special One" really is until he has had ring time with a marquee name at welterweight, such as titleholder Devon Alexander, domestic rival Amir Khan or even Paulie Malignaggi, who is kicking keen to fight, again, in the United Kingdom. Not all of the blame can be laid at Brook's door, however. On three occasions this year his challenge for Alexander's strap was cancelled, with injuries to one fighter or the other delaying a bout that now looks further away than ever.
At his best, Brook is like a Rolls-Royce going through the gears smoothly and delivering performance that makes one's head turn. But this particular vehicle has stalled at times and, at worst, still looks like it's being developed on the production line.
Many fighters never fulfill their god-given talents until they are met with their greatest challenge, and after tonight's postfight interview with Brook promoter Eddie Hearn, we are none the wiser as to who might provide it.
"I want the best out there, I'm ready, bring on whoever you want," Brook declared. Then, moments afterward, Hearn, with a glint in his eye, said, "We've got options."
Wait, what? So Brook verus the winner of Alexander-Shawn Porter isn't the foregone conclusion we all thought? So what are these options?
Khan on pay-per-view in the UK, and with their heated rivalry stemming from the usual "Who beat up whom in sparring?" does a right treat on these shores. And, hey, if it don't make dollars, it don't make sense, right? I mean, are we really all holding our breath for Khan to face the king of kings, Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
Hearn also said that one fight he would love to make in the UK is Brook-Adrien Broner. But is Broner and his circus really going to up sticks for someone with no profile in America? And as alluded to earlier, Malignaggi-Brook sells out tonight's venue comfortably and boosts Brook's reputation stateside.
When the Sheffield native looks around at who holds the four shiny belts, then all he will see is an obstacle that is far greater than a fighter who managed to overcome a shadowy figure of Ricky Hatton. But maybe, just maybe, that's when we'll see all of his lights switched on permanently.
"The Special One"? Not just yet.