Kell Brook vs. Sergey Rabchenko, 10 or 12 rounds, junior middleweghts
Gamal Yafai vs. Gavin McDonnell, 12 rounds, junior featherweights
Lenroy Thomas vs. David Allen, rematch, 12 rounds
Lee Appleyard vs. Atif Shafiq, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Kid Galahad vs. TBA, 10 or 12 rounds, featherweights
Scott Gilfoid: Kell ‘Special k’ Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) will be looking to resurrect his fading career in 3 months from now against the hard hitting 31-year-old #7 WBC contender Sergey Rabchenko (29-2, 22 KOs) on March 3 at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England.
The Brook-Rabchenko fight will be televised on Sky Sports for the boxing fans interested in watching the 31-year-old Brook in action.
Brook believes he’ll be stronger at junior middleweight than he was at 147. It’s debatable whether that’ll be the case. Brook wasn’t any stronger when he fought at middleweight last year September against IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC 160 lb. champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. If Brook wasn’t any stronger fighting at 160, then it seems logical that he won’t be any more powerful fighting at 154. It’s good for Brook to think positive though, but it’s better for him to have his feet on the ground and be thinking realistically. Power often doesn’t increase for fighters when they add bulk. Look at heavyweight Anthony Joshua. He’s added 30 pounds of muscle since he turned pro in 2013, and he’s no stronger than he was when he first turned pro. It’s possible that added weight will help Brook absorb punches better at 154, but he’s not shown issues having punch resistance problems at 147. Brook’s main problems have had to do with his eyes breaking down on him, as well as his stamina at times. Moving up to 154 won’t help Brook take shots to the eyes. It might be even more of a problem for Brook to take shots than it was in the past.
Brook has lost his last 2 fights against Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and suffered debilitating eye injuries in both fights. Brook now is going to try his hand at fighting in the 154 lb. division, where he hopes to capture a world title against WBO champion Sadam Ali in 2018. Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn have already let it be known they want the fight against Sadam Ali. Now it’s just up to Brook winning his fight against the heavy-handed Rabchenko, and hoping the 29-year-old Ali doesn’t get beaten by someone else in the meantime. Ali has a mandatory in #1 WBO Liam Smith that he might have to take. That’s a fight that Ali could very well lose. If Brook has to face Smith for the WBO title rather than Ali, it might be a bridge too far for him. Smith can punch, and he’s a level above Ali in terms of talent in my estimation.
Brook will have hometown advantage against the Belarusian Rabchenko. In theory, it could help Brook if he’s fighting at home in front of his loyal boxing fans. Unfortunately, it didn’t help Brook beat Spence earlier this year on May 27 at Bramhall Lane in Sheffield. The crowd motivated Brook for 6 rounds, but by the 7th, he had suffered a broken eye socket, and it was all downhill from that point on for him. Having the fans on Brook’s side is fine, but they’re not going to be able to take the shots for him inside the ring. If Brook’s increasingly fragile eyes can’t handle the huge power from Rabchenko, then it won’t matter that he’s fighting in front of his fans in Sheffield. You can argue that Brook is making a colossal blunder in moving up to the junior middleweight division, and fighting a guy with excellent power in his first fight in that weight class. Rabchenko is an even bigger puncher than Spence in my view. Rabchenko’s shots aren’t as explosive as Spence’s, but he hits with more thudding power. Rabchenko is like a bull inside the ring. If he’s able to put hands on Brook for any length of time, I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks down in some shape or form. It might not even be an eye injury that is Brook’s undoing in this fight. Brook’s pointy beak might give out on him the way it did in his first fight against Carson Jones in July 2012, and he could wear down. Jones had Brook hurt and ready to be knocked out in the 12th round of that fight. Jones is nowhere near the same puncher Rabchenko is.
“Rabchenko is a dangerous fight for the return but I want to jump straight back in at World level and I think out styles will gel for an electric fight. I’m already deep in camp and I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere again in my home town on March 3,” said Brook.
If Brook beats Rabchenko, he’ll get quickly moved up the 154lb. rankings. Rabchenko is rated #7 with the World Boxing Council, which means Brook will at least get pushed up high in the WBC’s rankings. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Brook wants. WBC champion is Jermell Charlo, and that’s not the guy Brook wants to fight. Brook has his sights set on battling the vulnerable WBO champion Sadam Ali, who clearly is the weakest link among the 5 champions at junior middleweight. I take that back. WBA ‘regular’ champion Brian Carlos Castano is the weakest link among the champions at junior middleweight in my opinion. He’s not well known though, so it’s not a good option for Brook to go in that direction. He stands to gain a lot more by fighting Sadam Ali. Besides, if Brook were to capture the WBA ‘regular’ 154 lb. title, it won’t be long before the WBA orders him to face WBA ‘super’ champion Erislandy Lara in order for the sanctioning body to reduce the amount of titles they have in the junior middleweight division. Brook vs. Lara would be a likely mismatch, as the Cuban fighter is still competing at a high level at 34, and he’d be too much of a problem for Special K to deal with. By going in the direction of Sadam Ali, Brook will have an easy title to win, and clear sailing for a while once he wins the WBO strap. The WBO’s top 15 is dreadful, filled with weak opposition as far as the eye can see. If Brook can get his hands on the WBO title, he could hold onto that title for years, as long as he can beat Liam Smith, who looks to be his main competition for that belt.
I will be stronger and better than ever in the division and my focus now is on becoming a two-weight two-time World champion,” said Brook.
Brook’s power is clearly better at 147 than it will be at 154. Brook wasn’t fighting badly in the welterweight division, so it makes little sense for him to move up to 154. I hate to say it but the experiment for Brook at 154 is likely to end badly for him. He might get lucky though if he can get a shot against Sadam Ali, but that’s the only chance he has to find success in the junior middleweight division in my estimation. If Brook tangles with champions Lara, Jarrett Hurd or Jermell Charlo, I see it ending badly for him.