Return of the Special One

By Steve Bateson on March 26, 2015
Return of the Special One
Kell Brook returns to action, following a life threatening injury, to make the first defense of his IBF crown

Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield sees the return of the IBF Welterweight champion, Kell Brook, after a life-threatening injury. His opponent is Romanian born, mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan (34-2 with 18 KO’s)

Last September, just weeks after overcoming Shawn Porter to win the belt in California, Brook was attacked and stabbed whilst on holiday in Tenerife. The injuries left him in a critical condition but fortunately he was able to make a full recovery and six months later he is prepared to make the first defense of his 147lb crown.

In the opposite corner will be the tough, durable and awkward Jo Jo Dan. Dan earned this shot with a split decision victory over Kevin Bizier back in December and he will be looking to take advantage of any rust or nerves on the part of the hometown champion.

Dan is a solid test for Brook (33-0 with 22 KO’s) in his first fight back from injury but most would expect “Special K” to have too much for his Canadian-based opponent. Dan has two losses on his ledger to tough but limited Selkuk Aydin and Brook is widely acknowledged as a level above that kind of competition so you can draw your own conclusions from that.

The real question is how much September’s attack has taken out of Brook, if anything. He possesses brilliant timing, lightning reflexes and the power to turn a fight on its head but mentally he may take a few rounds to adjust back to what he knows. Dan will attempt to steal an early lead on workrate alone although I don’t believe he has the power to seriously test Brook’s chin. Brook may need to come from behind on the scorecards but once he hits his stride I’d expect him to be the first man to stop Dan as we head into the championship rounds.

If Brook can come through Saturday night victorious then all eyes will turn to the elite fighters in the Welterweight division. Brook has spoken many times of wanting to test himself against the very best, believing he belongs at that level, and as a beltholder he will definitely have many fighters knocking at his door. Talks have been mooted between himself an Amir Khan for an all-British blockbuster during the summer but those rumours seem to have cooled in recent days. Other potential opponents include Keith Thurman, Marcos Maidana and the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez. Brook certainly has the world at his feet now, something that seemed so far away just six months prior, and his fans will be desperate to see the next part of the journey this Saturday.


The undercard of the show sees some very interesting bouts for particular fighters looking to stake their claim to move onto bigger things.

Sheffield’s Adam Etches (18-0 with 15 KO’s) will test himself against the durable gatekeeper Sergey Khomitsky, the IBF International Middleweight strap on the line. Etches wants to prove that his fan-friendly, hard-hitting style, is ready to make the jump to European and world contention and if he can make a statement against Khomitsky, only ever stopped by Gennady Golovkin and Robert Stieglitz, then it will certainly get many to take him seriously.  Khomitsky (29-11-3 with 12 KO’s) is no stranger to British fighters with fights against Nick Blackwell (draw), Frank Buglioni (Won 6th round KO) and points defeats to Martin Murray, Ryan Rhodes and Jamie Moore. He will give Etches a test but it should be one that Etches can overcome either by late stoppage or on points. If Etches has aspirations of putting his name in the same bracket as Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jnr then a victory here is crucial.

Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell, brother of IBF Bantamweight champion Jamie, will contest the vacant EBU Super Bantamweight title against undefeated Ukrainian Oleksandr Yegorov (13-0-1 with 6 KO’s). McDonnell (also undefeated with 12-0-2 with 4 KO’s) will be looking to follow up an impressive victory over Vusi Malinga last October by adding the European crown to his growing list of accolades. McDonnell is a tidy boxer with an impressive workrate and it should be enough to see him edge out a unanimous points victory but Yegorov should not be taken lightly.

Frankie Gavin (21-1 with 13 KO’s) makes his first appearance for Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom against Bogdan Mitic (20-6 with 13 KO’s) as he attempts to push his way back into world contention. Gavin has a May date with talented South African Chris Van Heerden so he will be looking to send a message ahead of that bout.

Stephen Smith will take a keep busy fight as he waits for confirmation of a super featherweight world title tilt whilst exciting Commonwealth super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (13-0 with 9 KO’s) will face off against Cristofer Rosales (10-1 with 7 KO’s) in a ten round contest. Yafai will be hoping to move onto bigger tests in the remainder of 2015.

Sky Sports (UK) will broadcast the “Unbreakable” bill live from 7:30 pm on Saturday night whilst Showtime will be airing the show Stateside.

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