Returning after yet another long hiatus this weekend is former IBF welterweight king “The Special One” Kell Brook, as he continues his campaign to be a two-weight titlist and capture gold at 154lbs. In his way is Mark DeLuca from Massachusetts, USA. The American will also be looking to pole-vault his way into title contention, should he pull off the upset against the home favourite in Sheffield, UK.
Brook’s career of recent has stagnated slightly in the last few years since he lost his title to welterweight star Errol Spence Jr., with 2 fights since against Sergei Rabchenko and Michael Zerafa, with the latter proving to be a far harder test than Brook anticipated. Brook now returns 14 months after his last fight with championship aspirations in his sights. The fight with DeLuca is for a minor WBO belt, so the winner will see themselves elevated in their rankings, with Brazilian Patrick Teixeira at the end of the road.
The American in the other corner hasn’t really stepped up to world level thus far in his career but has amassed a decent 24-1 record, losing his undefeated status to a split decision in June of 2018 to Walter Wright. It had long been a small inside joke among Brook fans that “The Special One” excelled against southpaws especially, but that trope may be dead in the water since losing in dramatic fashion to Spence Jr.
Brook has promised a revitalised version of himself and has been open about the corners he has perhaps cut in the past and has reaffirmed his commitment in training camp and his loyalty to Matchroom and Eddie Hearn, promising to make the brash promoter a believer in him again after Saturday night.
Should Brook win, a fight with the Yorkshireman could be seen as a luring fight for the belt-holders at 154, with Brook showing physical fragility after damaging both orbital bones in fights and not possessing the physical advantages that followed him at welterweight. He also has one of the biggest profiles and names at the weight, so shouldn’t find himself a million miles away from a shot at gold should he get his hand raised.
As for DeLuca, he’ll see this as an opportunity of a lifetime to put his name on the boxing map, as he faces off against a 33-year-old with a history of serious injuries and a 14-month lay-off to overcome in front of all of his adoring fans in the Sheffield Arena. Expect fireworks in this fight where both competitors can’t afford to lose.