Kell Brook has been out of the ring for more than a year but the former world champion returns to action on Saturday night in a must-win fight against Mark DeLuca at the Sheffield Arena.
Brook looking for final flourish after long layoff
It is fair to say Brook’s career has stalled over the last couple of years and the 33-year-old boxer knows he needs to produce a convincing victory on his comeback fight this weekend. Brook has not competed since the end of 2018 and could retire from the sport if he fails to deliver a big performance against DeLuca.
‘The Special One’ boasts a professional record of 38 wins, 26 coming inside the distance, with just two defeats.
Super-welterweight Brook looked a shadow of himself during his disappointing points win against Michael Zerafa in his last bout at the Sheffield Arena. The decision to join forces with trainer John Fewkes did not pay off and Brook did not have a single fight last year.
Brook, who has a 65 per cent knockout ratio, has now reunited with long-time trainer Dominic Ingle and will hope this can make the difference and help lead him to another world title.
The long-held rivalry between him and Amir Khan has frustratingly failed to lead to a clash in the ring and the public appeal of this grudge match has faded over the years.
Brook’s greatest night in the ring came six years ago when ‘Special K’ defeated then unbeaten Shawn Porter by majority decision to win the IBF world welterweight title in California. Brook produced an accomplished performance as the underdog, in only his second fight outside of Britain, to take the title on the scorecards.
After several successful title defences, Brook took the brave decision of stepping up in weight to challenge heavy-handed superstar Gennady Golovkin for the world middleweight titles in 2016.
Brook’s audacious bid came up short though at the O2, with the British boxer stopped in the fifth round for the first defeat of his career as he suffered a broken eye socket.
Following this loss, Brook returned to welterweight but again took on a huge challenge by facing unbeaten American Errol Spence Jr in 2017 at his beloved Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground. Brook was unable to recover from swelling to his left eye as Spence won the IBF world title with an 11th round victory.
After a second eye socket surgery, Brook returned in 2018 with a second-round stoppage of Sergey Rabchenko in Sheffield.
But his December bout against Zerafa was a major letdown, leaving his boxing career up in the air.
DeLuca aiming to seize his big opportunity
American DeLuca has the chance to make a name for himself and may feel this is a golden opportunity against a former world champion on the wane.
‘Bazooka’ DeLuca comes in with a professional record of 24 wins, with 13 by stoppage, and only one defeat.
The 31-year-old southpaw lost to Walter Wright in a split decision two years ago but avenged the defeat four months later with a unanimous points verdict.
DeLuca defeated Jimmy Williams and Brandon Brewer in 2019 on points, with his last four fights all going to the scorecards.
Brook v DeLuca: The verdict
Brook is an exceptionally short price for victory with the 1/25 jolly expected to get the job done. His opponent DeLuca is 8/1 to pull off the upset but there is no interest in siding with the American.
The home favourite is just 2/5 to win inside the distance but there is no guarantee Brook, who is bound to have ring rust after such a long break, will be able to finish this fight off early.
DeLuca has never been stopped and could be more durable than given credit for. The most appealing bet is to back over seven rounds with the possibility of Brook getting the stoppage during the closing stages.