Kell Brook (34-0, 23 KOs) takes on fellow rival Brit Frankie Gavin (22-1 13 KOs) in a bid to defend his welterweight IBF world title at the O2 arena on Saturday evening.
The fight, which is headlining the packed Matchroom Boxing “Rule Britannia” card, will see Brook strive to defend his title for a second time in two months after coming off the back of a destructive fourth-round knockout of Jo Jo Dan.
It’s a matchup that was for many, unexpected, and has drawn substantial criticism from the British fight fans who believe it’s one where the champion will steamroll through the challenger within the first half of the fight. After mentioning fights such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Marcos Maidana and Keith Thurman it’s not surprising that many were disappointed to here Gavin’s name announced as the next challenger to try and dethrone Brook.
But a routine victory over Gavin would surely mean a high profile fight for the Sheffield star later on the year, before a possible mouthwatering contest with Amir Khan in 2016.
The champion has suffered a whirlwind last 10 months, having experienced the exuberance of taking the IBF strap off Shawn Porter 33 fights into his career, but being stabbed in the leg in Tenerife just a month later, fearing that he would never walk again.
But a Sheffield homecoming at a sold out Motorpoint Arena in his last outing was the perfect way to put personal tribulations behind him, and he looks brimming with confidence going into this fight with Gavin.
Many U.S. viewers will have seen Brook earn a majority decision win over Shawn Porter in late 2014, but subsequently won’t be acquainted with his challenger. Gavin has a reputation for being a slick, sharp and competent southpaw who was building momentum, until his split decision defeat to the well travelled Leonard Bundu in August 2014.
Since then, his career has revolved around rebuilding a loss of confidence, and three fights in six months, which involved a second-round TKO victory over journeyman Mate Hornyak, a unanimous decision win against the highly tipped Briton Bradley Skeet, and a complete 10-round shutout over Bogdan Mitic seems to have done the job.
However, there is still that gulf in class between the two which can’t be ignored, and a victory for Gavin would send ripples through the division.